How is God pleased today?
Ask this question on the road or in the church, to Christians or non-Christians, and you’d probably get the same answer: Obey God. Worship Him, and serve Him. Do good, and turn from evil.
Hmm. Well, that’s what I used to think before I became a Christian, and that belief kept me from going anywhere close to God or Christianity, because I figured that if I had to be moral and obedient to be near God, then it was better that I didn’t know anything about Him, so I wouldn’t need to worry about it, and I could live life the way I wanted. It also made me think that all gods were the same, and it didn’t matter which I believed in, it’d all get me to the same place.
Then I became a Christian, and this is what I found out: God is happy when we are happy.
Whoa. So does that mean it’s ok to live any way we want to, like flat out partying night and day, bingeing on TV dramas, playing video games all the time, or sleeping around wantonly and indulging in whatever pleases us?
There’s nothing wrong with having fun or drinking alcohol, nor playing video games or whatever you may enjoy, and God is happy when we enjoy good food, good wine, TV dramas, or video games, but not when it starts taking over our lives, because overindulgence only brings emptiness, not happiness. He knows that, and we know that, from experience.
And people who sleep around aren’t happy, because if they were happy with the person they were sleeping with, there would be no need to look for others. Plus, it doesn’t take the fear of God’s judgement for people who sleep around to fear consequences of doing so anyway. People hooked on pornography, drugs, cigarettes, gambling, or any other kind of addiction aren’t happy – they’re trapped, stressed out, and mostly in fear. Anything that ultimately ends up destroying us and hurting people we love will never make us happy.
God wants us truly happy – enjoying life to the fullest, fulfilling our God-given gifts and potential, living a blessed life with people we love whom He has put into our lives, and free from fear – fear of judgement and punishment, fear of having to obey as servants, to be free to call Him ‘Daddy’* as sons and daughters, and to come to Him freely and boldly when we need, including when we fall (Romans 5:9, Romans 8:15, Hebrews 4:16).
When Jesus came to the people of His day and the land that He had chosen, the Jews in Israel, they already knew God and all about His laws, and they did their best to worship and obey God. But Jesus revealed God as their heavenly Father, who would feed them, clothe them, and provide for their needs as a loving father does for his child, only in far greater measure.
God wants to provide for you. He wants to give you the best gifts and blessings, to protect you and lead you into paths of success and prosperity, in every area, just as you would want the same for your child. But because He made us with free choice and not robots, we have to choose to let Him, and trust Him.
And you might reason: So as sons and daughters, doesn’t that mean we should be obedient to do what He says, to walk in His ways? Won’t being an obedient child please His father’s heart?
Consider this: which would please you more, that your children obey you out of duty, because they honour you and because they fear the punishment that would come otherwise, or if they do it purely because they love you?
Even though the action may be the same, you know that you’d never really be happy if you knew your children were obedient out of duty, honour and fear. In fact it’d probably grieve you, because you love them, and you want them to love you, not fear you. You want them to do things for you because they want to, not because they have to.
And there’s none like God who knows the heart behind every action. God doesn’t want us to serve Him out of fear, but out of love. And because He knows that fear and love can never mix, He wants us to receive His perfect love that will cast out all fear (1 John 4:18). Though some Christians may talk about having a ‘healthy fear of God’, Jesus Himself translated the fear of God as ‘worship’, and not ‘being afraid’ fear (Matthew 4:10).
The thing is, in and of ourselves, none of us can ever stand before God without feeling fear, because we all know that we’ve done wrong, and we can never be good enough by His standards. If God were to appear right now before you, smiling and in all His glory, you’d probably find yourself cowering and not looking up, promising to do better. Just because we avoid Him doesn’t mean we don’t fear the notion of Him if He really turns up.
Neither can God just sweep things aside and say He’ll just bless us if we believe He exists, because He is so merciful and gracious. He is merciful and gracious, and He is love, but He is also a just and holy God.
And so in His love, in His grace, in His mercy, and to satisfy His justice, God sent Jesus, His Son, the only sinless One, as a Man to take all our wrongs and be judged and punished in our place. So that today, when we receive Jesus and accept what He has done for us as a gift, God justly pardons us for every wrong that we’ve done or will ever do, and He sees us perfect, forgiven, and righteous in His Son Jesus, always.
And knowing and believing that removes completely all fear of judgement and punishment, freeing us to serve God out of love, not of servile fear. It enables God to bless us freely – in our job, our marriage, our family, our health, our wealth, everything.
Does that mean we’ll never do wrong after we accept Jesus? No, it doesn’t. But when we realise the love that has come this far for us, we won’t want to do wrong, and even when we do wrong, we won’t want to run from God, but to God, our loving heavenly Daddy.
God wants you happy. Jesus came so you could be blessed.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.
*The word ‘Abba’ used in Romans 8:15 is an Aramaic word meaning ‘Daddy’ or ‘Papa’, i.e. a term of endearment for one’s father. See ref. Aramaic was the dialect spoken by Jesus with the Jews of His day.