What does God (really) want?

John Myer blogs at Bare Knuckle Bible

We're all haunted by an enduring, nagging hunch that God wants something. He cannot exist, we tell ourselves, as a Being who requires nothing and wants nothing except to dispassionately watch us. God does not channel surf. He has something in mind and we perceive it.

At that point, human interpretations become hydra-headed. Given our cultures and sinful proclivities, the global village pours out responses to "what God wants" that range from the bizarre to the perfunctory. We only need reference Mayan history to find hearts being cut out of victims. The Biblical record shows the idolatry of children being burned alive and acts of self-mutilation. Then, moving into the more contemporary religious record, there are self-immolations, pilgrimages of great distances undertaken on one's knees, and skin-skewering with hooks and spears. All of it is in the name of doing "what God wants." On the other side of the spectrum (and one with which we are more acquainted), a young man in Ohio pulls on a sweater vest and endures a church service the he hates. Still more extreme, a mother denies her child life-saving medication. Why? Because, once again, it is "what God wants."

Wearied by so many opinions, we wonder whether anybody really knows.

Jesus had His turn answering the question. Religious experts asked Him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" (Mark 12:28). The stakes were high. If He answered wrongly, His disciples for all time would have been given a faulty compass to follow. Not to mention the pool of human ignorance would increase by one more opinion, and the religious elite might have received more ammunition for their misguided causes. But if He could answer correctly, then His response would summarize the one divine priority that ranked above all others. In one fell swoop, He could also identify everything extraneous, self-imposed, or emptied of meaning. He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 — "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."

That is not how I, as a modern day evangelical would have answered. Pressured by the Who's Who of the theological world, I might have given the safest response — sola fida! (faith alone) — and the next like it — sola scriptura! (scripture alone). That answer would have satisfied the religious crowd of old, and to an extent, it might have made a fine answer. Without faith, no one can grasp anything truly spiritual. And as for the Word of God — well, Jesus just quoted it in His very answer. Take the Scriptures away and we're all back to doing theology as the Wild, Wild West, where God is hopelessly amorphous.

But at this moment, challenged to distill all the law into one answer, Jesus flies like a bullet straight to the reason for all good works, the deterrent against all sin, the destination of faith, and the intention of the Scriptures. God wants you in relationship with Him. Far from milk-and-cookies sentimentality, this is a relationship that will transform you. It will cause you to self-sacrificially pour out. You will be confronted a thousand times, challenged, hurt, and then healed. And in the midst of it all, there will be a certain growing passion, a heat of joy at some profound level that never goes away. This is it. Unlike the cacophony of voices in our world, Jesus didn't offer His opinion. As the Son of God, He offered the way things are.

God already loves us. But it's not yet relationship until we close the loop and love Him back. When that happens, the fireworks start.

TagsBiblical-Truth  |  Christian-Life  |  God-Father  |  Jesus-Christ

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Published on 7-1-14