Wednesday, July 22, 2009

To Please God

Can pleasing God become an idol? Can the desire to do the right thing become out of balance? Is it wrong for the phrase that I utter so often, “I just want to do the right thing. I just want to please God,” to become odious to me?

I am surrounded by people who just want to make God happy. As I stand in a room, watching these wonderful, God-fearing people, strive for God’s approval, my heart begins to hurt. My throat constricts with the tears that I suppress.

Something is wrong, but I don’t have the words.

How do you tell someone—better yet, how do you tell yourself—that pleasing God is out of balance? It’s what we were created to do. The motivation behind all of our petty purposes in life is to be pleasing to God. But this purpose in life has become a god in itself.  But how?

A man in a pulpit, or just at his kitchen table, speaks the truth with force and conviction. I’ve seen it happen so many times. There is this confidence, this power, that embodies his words. It’s as if, before he began speaking, he said to himself, “Aha, I have found out what pleases God. Let me tell the world.” He is able to communicate it in a concise fashion, easy for his family or congregation to understand, because it makes so much sense to him. To have a one-sentence answer to the question: “What is your purpose in life?” is freeing and powerful.

It is also infectious.

We all want to know what we can do to make our lives go well. The shorter the list the better; but a list nonetheless. Scripture verses for support add weight to our convictions. We use our minds to decipher the way. The more intelligent, more articulate the person, the more likely that person will be our leader.

My heart is aching for a place. A place to go where striving can cease. I am weary of this unachievable goal. I am weary of the competition to be most pleasing to God. I am weary of seeking after His approval. I ache to come unto Him as a little child. I ache to rest in His arms. After all, He says He is a refuge and strength. He protects us in the shadow of His wings. He promises me nothing will separate me from His love.

God! I can’t do it anymore. Where is the blood of Christ that saved me?  Did it wash me at the door, simply to let me in, but once inside, the dirt can come again? 

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