“If we truly love God, we would want to share Him with everyone around us. This is what God wants, and this should be our greatest joy.”
When we talk about worship, we often paint ourselves into a corner and relegate the topic of conversation to music. This results in even less constructive conversations about style and preference, traditions and pragmatism, but it hardly ever begins with the premise of asking God what He wants. If we were to read through the Bible with the intention of answering this question, we might be surprised by the answer.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 ESV). This is more than just saying that if we give God what He wants then He will give us what we want. When we delight in Him and make Him the chief desire of our hearts, then He gladly gives us more of Himself. This is an important part of our relationship with God. When we truly seek the Lord, we also find our greatest reward (Hebrews 11:6). He wants to be the one who provides for us as well (Philippians 4:19).
He meets our needs not only because He loves us but because He wants us to trust in Him (Psalm 55:22). It is not just that God desires our love, but because He loves us, He meets our desires, rewards, and needs all together in the gift of His Son.
God’s first commandment is to love Him (Exodus 20:1-11, Matthew 22:37-38). So often we respond to this as though it is our duty, but an obligated love doesn’t please God. Jesus quoted the prophet Hosea when to told the Pharisees, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 12:7 See also Matthew 9:13). God doesn’t need our sacrifices (Psalm 50:8-15), He has provided the only sacrifice that we will ever need through His Son. He simply wants us to trust in Him. God not only commands our affection, but He gives us a reason to love Him by pointing to Christ (John 15:13).
“We love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19 ESV). We can only worship God as objects of His affection. He loved us so much that He gave us His Son (John 3:16) and, in return, it is by our love that others will know that God has placed His favor on us (John 13:35).
As God’s children, He not only desires our worship, but He wants us to be a testimony of His love and grace to the world. Just as Christ did not come to fulfill a private agenda (John 6:38), we are called to submit to God’s will for our lives. What does the Lord require of us? To do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). We are to look to the example of Christ in His humility and lay aside our own interests for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-8). We are to live as examples of Christ’s righteousness and walk in a manner that is worthy of the gospel by which we have been called (Ephesians 4:1, Philippians 1:27), and when others see our good works we ought to point them to the one who, by His mercy, saved us from our sins (Matthew 5:16).
We do this because we love God, and if we truly love God, whatever He loves, we will love. God desires for all people to be saved (I Timothy 2:4). As we draw close to God, we ought to love our neighbors as Christ loved us (John 13:34), and if we love anyone, our desire ought to be for their salvation. God does not desire that any should perish, but that everyone should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9). This is why it is our commission to go into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). If we truly love God, we would want to share Him with everyone around us. This is what God wants, and this should be our greatest joy.
Not only does God desire that we seek after Him and share Him with others, but He also wants to be known by us. The Book of Proverbs is filled with this imagery of wisdom as a woman who is to be desired. “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom… She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 3:15 ESV). “Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare to her” (Proverbs 8:10-11 ESV). This is in contrast to the warning of being lead by our passions and seduced by sin, “To preserve you from the evil woman… Do not desire her beauty in your heart…” (Proverbs 6:24-25 ESV). God wants us to grow in wisdom because He is the source of all knowledge and truth (Colossians 2:2-3). Just as He doesn’t want us to love Him out of obligation, He doesn’t want us to blindly follow Him. Like any other personal relationship, God wants to be known.
God loves us so much He has made Himself known throughout the ages through creation (Psalm 19:1-6), through the Law and the Prophets (Psalm 19:7-11), and through the personal redemption of Christ (Psalm 19:12-14). God is a personal God who pursues us with a passionate love. If we love Him and want to know Him, we must search for the truth in His Word.
In the story of Job, we see the protagonist struggling to reconcile the fact that he had lost all of his worldly possessions. Even when his wife and friends told him that God had abandoned him, he knew deep in his heart that God only desires good for those whom He loves, but it isn’t until the end of the story that Job fully realizes that God’s desires don’t always line up with our own, “I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food. But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does. For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind.” (Job 23:12-14 ESV) It is only after Job ceases in asking “why?” and starts asking “what?” that he gets a reply. “Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; be silent, and I will speak. If you have any words, answer me; speak, for I desire to justify you. If not, listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom” (Job 33:31-33 ESV).
Just as the psalmist declares, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 ESV), Job needed to trust God that, even in the midst of his trouble and strife, God had not abandoned him. We may never fully understand the wisdom of God, but God desires us to learn from Him.
Rev. Adam Miller is the President and Host of Songtime and can be heard daily on the Songtime Radio Broadcast.
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