So do you ever feel like you can never make God happy. Sure we are told that you do make God happy and that he loves you, and we know this is the “right” answer but is that how we really feel deep down inside? Not for me it wasn’t.
I work in a christian business and we have a devotional time every morning. Almost every devotional falls into the following structure: 1) There is something you are not doing that you should be doing, 2) Today we are going to re-commit ourselves to working on this area and doing better at it. 3) Tomorrow we will repeat the cycle again with another aspect you are failing at.
I don’t know about you but I find that super de-motivating. Not only that but I see it causing so much destruction in people’s lives. What happens is some people believe this and blame themselves for their failure (because it couldn’t be God, he is good all the time, and all the time he is good). This makes truly believing that God is happy with you impossible no matter what you “say” you believe.
The other type of person gives up and best case scenario believes in a kind of “grace” where they can do anything they want and God is always happy with them (despite what they say this always feels hollow and unreal and so many drift away from God), or they simply walk away.
However I have found another way, it isn’t a way where you can just add something to your current belief system. It has been a radical giving up of all I’ve know and believed about myself, God and the bible and in true Abrahamic fashion leaving what is known behind to follow Jesus into the unknown. ( I am saying this not to invalidate anyone’s current experience, but rather to share that moment that for me transformed everything.)
One of the things I have had to work the hardest at is changing the way I read my bible. I used to read it to find answers, to learn timeless principles that could be applied to life. However now I read the bible to allow the Word of God to read me. I read it to find Jesus and in doing so the Father. I am learning to read it like art, allowing it to speak to me of the many colours of Christ.
By reading this way I have found a God who doesn’t let me just do anything I want to but rather loves me just as I am. I have found a God who’s love has begun to melt my hard heart because he always calls me son, even on my worst day. I have found a God who is more interested in me than he is in my sin and is in fact my harbour in the storms of my worst sin and shame.
To make my point I don’t want to go to the easy grace passages in the New Testament but rather to the least favourite book in the Bible, Leviticus (don’t worry I won’t quote long portions).
No matter what early civilisation you belonged to each culture had at it’s core a sacrificial ritual. The idea being that when trouble strike you sacrifice till the “gods” are satisfied and fix your problem. Think about Cain and Abel and how the first murder was committed over this issue. Cultures could never know that God was satisfied unless he fixed their problem, and the longer the fix was delayed, the more intense the sacrifice, until they were willing to sacrifice children to their “gods”.
Enter Leviticus, what many call the most boring and legalistic book in the bible, but have you noticed? There is one incredible difference between the sacrificial system in Leviticus and every other, it is the declaration that if you follow these guidelines God will be satisfied! It is the first time a sacrificial system provided a way for us to know God was satisfied. That is the great news of Leviticus and it only gets better from there. (Check out Rob Bell’s “The God’s aren’t angry” he says it way better than me.)
As we draw closer to Easter may we remember that God has already declared himself satisfied and indeed happy with Jesus and with you. He has done this so that we can engage him in a healthy, authentic, safe and transforming relationship.
As always your comments are always appreciated