We come together with different people for church services, meetings, life-groups, counselling and many other interactions in the day to day activities of church. All these are good things. But when we leave those ‘spiritual’ interactions, what is the reality of our lifestyles? Are we authentically living Christian lives or are their subtle differences from our public, private and personal lives? What do we do when no one is watching? What do we watch when we know no one will find out and we are alone? Does our language change? Do our actions reflect biblical values lived out with integrity and love to those who are closest to us?
I read this phrase and have had it rattling around in my mind, “living for God’s pleasure” But what does it mean to live my life for Gods pleasure? Could it be that we live biblical authentic lifestyles with ourselves, our Father, and our neighbor? That our inward journey with ourselves, our relationship with our Father and our engagement with the people around us reflects Jesus. The fact that Jesus is central to our identity. If Jesus is central to our identity, He is Who we would value, which would lead to certain priorities in our lives. Those priorities would lead actions and a lived life which reflects Jesus to the world around us.
How can we begin to put this into action in our lives? Paul writes to us saying, “… Since you are now joined with him, you must continually view yourselves as dead and unresponsive to sin’s appeal while living daily for God’s pleasure in union with Jesus, the Anointed One.” And further, continues, “So then, refuse to answer its call to surrender your body as a tool for wickedness. Instead, passionately answer God’s call to keep yielding your body to him as one who has now experienced resurrection life! You live now for his pleasure, ready to be used for his noble purpose” (Romans 6:11, 13)
Once we begin to understand that we can view ourselves differently, we are aliens and ambassadors of Jesus on this planet, our home is not here but with Him. And we begin to make correct choices, our habit will begin to change, and sins appeal will begin to wane. Slowly as we say no to sin and surrender more and more to Jesus things will begin to shift in our lives. We will not live for ourselves and the things of this earth which enslave us but rather for His pleasure which empowers, equips and brings purpose.
The choice to live this life does not mean that ‘everything is coming up roses’ and our 4 D’s being, Dollars, Double Cab, Double Story and Data are perfect. Rather that in this life we will go through trials and struggles but we have a purpose beyond all that. And if you read the original manuscript you will find that in the end you are on the winning side. Peter encourages us this way, “Since Christ, though innocent, suffered in his flesh for you, now you also must be a prepared soldier, having the same mind-set, for whoever has died in his body is done with sin. So, live the rest of your earthly life no longer concerned with human desires but consumed with what brings pleasure to God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2) Read that again be ‘consumed with what brings pleasure to God’ I wonder how different our lives would be if our hearts desire was to be consumed with what brings pleasure to Jesus?
Can you see it, repeatedly we are encouraged to live our lives for God’s pleasure? John, put it this way, ‘And whatever we ask of him we receive, because we keep his commands. And by our beautiful intentions we continue to do what brings pleasure to him.’ 1 John 3:22
When we think over our lives and imagine what they would be like without Him, living for our own selfish desires, where does that leave us? Do we look to social media, Hollywood and sitcoms for what we believe the standard of life should be? What is normal life? The reality is the ‘Normal’ is a setting on a washing machine. We go through up and downs in our lives on this earth, and we always will. I wonder how many people’s lives are as fulfilled as they are portrayed on Facebook and social media? I suspect if we just scratch below the surface, we will be surprised but what we will find. I love the truth in the title of John Ortberg’s great book, “Everybody is normal until you get to know them” Yes, we will have struggles in this life, nowhere in scripture do we see that we will have perfect life, perfect marriages, perfect health, perfect relationships. I will often tell couples who are entering marriage that there are no prefect marriages. Not in Hollywood, sitcoms, reality and not even in the bible. But we are called to persevere, and that marriage is the refining process that God would use to help us become the men and women he has called us to be. But I digress.
Think about living your life for God’s pleasure, making that decision in this moment and persevering in it until it becomes a habit and your default response to the world around you. If that is the lens you see through, the standard you hold yourself to, and the desire of your heart, I believe that you will find that ever elusive joy and contentment in all circumstances. We may not get this right all the time but it’s most definitely worth a try and ‘by our beautiful intentions we continue to do what brings pleasure to him!’ And then we find purpose, contentment and joy, and our actions and lives will echo through all eternity.