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What Does God Want (From Us)?

June 10, 2011

It was just over a year ago that I wrote All Dogs Go To Heaven - Don't They? To this day, that is still the most popular page on this site. In the first 9 days of this month - 183 hits, even a year later.

I put a statement in there that some would not agree with what I wrote. Same goes for this one. Some will even say that I'm totally wrong. My only response - I really hope I'm right!

So - here goes.


If you're a regular reader - you know I like music. Let's try to answer this question with some lyrics from a song -

“How much do I owe you?” said the man to his Lord.
“For giving me this day and every day that’s gone before.
“Shall I build a temple, shall I make a sacrifice?
“Tell me Lord and I will pay the price.”

And the Lord said: “I won’t take less than your love, sweet love.
“No, I won’t take less than your love.
“All the treasures of the world could never be enough,
“And I won’t take less than your love.”

Know the song?
It's called
I won't take less than your love, by Tanya Tucker - with either Paul Davis or Paul Overstreet (depending on which version you listen to).

In the song, a similar conversation takes place between a husband and his wife - and between a son and his mother.

Not a Christian song - just a song. But the words really bring out a pretty deep message.


Maybe God would like to go to a concert with us?


That's my conclusion - but how did I - with these lyrics - come to reach it?
And why did I start at the end?


First - I started at the end because there were so many feelings / thoughts in such a short time yesterday that it may be difficult to write this (and read it) without knowing ahead of time where it's going.

Second - how I got here -


Yesterday, I was just laying on the couch in the early evening taking a break - and listening to music.
The songs from the musical play Mama Mia were playing.
Lay All Your Love On Me comes on.
Quite often, this one reminds me of something that God would say to us.

Don't go wasting your emotions, lay all your love on me.
Don't go sharing your devotion, lay all your love on me.


Matt 22:37 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

No wonder it reminds me of something He would say - He did say it.


After that, I felt like I really wanted to listen to a song called Jerusalem Ridge. Don't know who wrote it - or what it's about (it has no words). The version I have is played by Tony Rice. If you haven't heard it, you may want to check it out on iTunes. It's from The Bluegrass Guitar Collection.

Anyway - I've seen this song played live - by some friends that play for fun and whatever people give them at pizza parlors and such - and it's amazing to watch them play. They are very good. It was amazing to listen to and even more so to watch their fingers flying over the instruments. This song is so complex and so fast! Tony Rice and company sound even better. It would be awesome to see them play.

So - I'm listening to this - and I begin to get so relaxed - getting this "warm fuzzy feeling" - and I'm reminded of something else.


With apologies to people who think their first instinct if they saw Jesus would be to bow down or lay down and worship Him - I don't feel that way. I'm not saying others are wrong - this is just how I feel.

Ever since I was in grade school, God, The Father - has been Someone who I'd really like to just curl up in His hand and be protected - feel safe.
As for Jesus - I can't wait to just walk the streets of Heaven - with His arm over my shoulder - and be with Him - my Best Friend.

Then I see myself going to a concert with Jesus.
And
Jerusalem Ridge is being played.
Jesus asks me if I liked it.
Of course I did.
Then He tells me - if you liked that - check this out.


Of course - it ends there.
Except that now I've got tears coming from my eyes and such a feeling of joy.
Can't wait for that experience to really happen!


So - if you're still with me here - this is how I got to this point.


I've been reading a book series - The Dominion Trilogy - by Robin Parrish. The events in the book are quite unbelievable (except maybe in an apocalyptic sense), but some of the individual scenes and interactions between the people really make one think about our relationship with each other and with God and what He wants from us.


After finishing that, I'm about half way through Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud, by Philip Yancey. That is totally about not only what we want from God - but what He wants from us.

He talks about our disappointment with God - because God often doesn't do what we want Him to do. But - He also talks about how God is often disappointed with us - because we often don't do what He'd like us to do. That's the problem with free will - something I've written about many times. It's when our will matches God's that things will be best.
here's a striking excerpt from the book -

As I read through the Bible in my winter aerie <he was in a snow-bound cabin in Colorado for a couple weeks>, I marveled at how much God lets human beings affect him. I was unprepared for the joy and anguish - in short, the passion - of the God of the Universe. By studying "about" God, by taming him and reducing him to words and concepts that could be filed away in alphabetical order, I had lost the force of the passionate relationship God seeks above all else. The people who related to God the best - Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah treated him with startling familiarity. They talked to God as if he were sitting in a chair beside them, as one might talk to a counselor, a boss, a parent, or a lover. They treated him like a person.

Like going to a concert with Jesus, maybe?


Some will strenuously object to this, I'm sure.
However - Jesus did go to a wedding, didn't He?

From John 2:1-11 --

Jesus Changes Water to Wine

Jn 2:1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

Jn 2:4 “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

Jn 2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Jn 2:6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jn 2:7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Jn 2:8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

Jn 2:11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

It wasn't even Jesus' time yet - but He performs His first miracle.

And look at what He did.

The best wine was served at the beginning of the wedding - as the master of the banquet said. But - when Jesus "makes" His wine - it's even better.


Let's go back to my friends playing at the pizza parlor - or Tony Rice and his group - playing Jerusalem Ridge.

I wrote about seeing God's gifts to us in something as a piano - in the instrument - in the music that was written for it - and in the people who can write and play that music. That was in Who Gets the Credit - Part 8 -- Is God Loving - or Angry?

Think about that music now - and the wine incident.

Turning the water into wine was a miracle - yes. It showed a small part (very small part) of what Jesus can do. How about a small glimpse of what Heaven will be like? Whatever we think is the best here on earth - it'll be better in Heaven. That concert is going to be unbelievable.


Now - let's put it all together -


Still think He doesn't want to be our friend? Maybe He wants us to just worship Him all the time and nothing else?

Jn 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

He wants to be our friend. He told us that very plainly.

Worship Him - absolutely. But all the time? I'm not so sure about that. Where's the friend in that? "Friend" implies something that's two way - an interaction.

There's many movies, books, and other things that would lead us to believe that when we die we will become angels. Don't know where that comes from - but it's not in the Bible. In fact - in 1 Corinthians 6:3 Paul says -

Do you not know that we will judge angels?

There are many references in the Bible to the angels worshiping God.

But there a lot of references where God interrupts people in the middle of their fear of God worship" - and says "Fear Not!". As Philip Yancey points out -

We hear the words every Christmas season at church pageants when children dress up in bathrobes and act out the story of Jesus’ birth. “Fear not!” lisps the six-year-old angel, his bedsheet costume dragging the ground, his coat-hanger-frame wings flapping ever so slightly from the trembling of his body. He sneaks a glance at the script hidden in the folds of his sleeve. “Fear not, for I bring you good tidings of great joy.” Already he has appeared to Zechariah (his older brother with a taped-on cotton beard) and to Mary (a freckled blonde from the second grade). He used the same greeting for both, “Fear not! . . .”

These were also God’s first words to Abraham, and to Hagar, and to Isaac. “Fear not!” the angel said in greeting Gideon and the prophet Daniel. For supernatural beings, that phrase served almost as the equivalent of “Hello, how are you?” Little wonder. By the time the supernatural being spoke, the human being was usually lying face down in a cataleptic state. When God made contact with planet Earth, sometimes the supernatural encounter sounded like thunder, sometimes it stirred the air like a whirlwind, and sometimes it lit up the scene like a flash of phosphorous. Nearly always it caused fear. But the angel who visited Zechariah and Mary and Joseph heralded that God was about to appear in a form that would not frighten.

What could be less scary than a newborn baby with jerky limbs and eyes that do not quite focus? In Jesus, born in a barn or cave and laid in a feeding trough, God found at last a mode of approach that humanity need not fear. The king had cast off his robes.

Again - "Fear not - I want to be your friend".


And then I think of all the times I've heard someone say something along the lines of - once we become a Christian, we have to watch out what we do - because once Christ is in us, we take Him everywhere we go - and we don't want to be doing something He wouldn't like.
True enough - but that sounds more like acting out of fear - not out of friendship.


Assuming one stays with the concept of fear God - don't do anything wrong - I'd have to ask - why does He want to be our friend? Would you want to be friends with someone who was always afraid of you?

At best - if we get beyond the "don't do anything wrong" concept - but still can't get to the "friend" idea - it seems like that leaves us pretty much doing nothing. We don't want to do anything wrong - go someplace or do something that God wouldn't want us to do. But at the same time - we can't bring ourselves to do something that we'd enjoy, because that's too much of the "friend" relationship with God. It just seems wrong.

To go beyond that - to go to the concert with Jesus - I think that's where He'd like us to be. I mean - it is possible to have fun while not doing something wrong. Isn't that more fun - wouldn't you want to be friends with someone like that? I play golf with a group at church - and non-Christians are invited to go with us - partly to show them that we Christians have fun too.


So that leaves us a choice to make between three options:

  1. fear God and be consumed about possibly doing the wrong things;
  2. fear God - but do not do anything, that way we don't have to worry about possibly doing the wrong thing or about having too much fun and getting God upset about that;
  3. fear not - and be His friend.

It's like flipping a coin. Yes - a two sided coin.

One side is fear (option 1)- the other side is fear not (option 3).
Option 2 is like having the coin land on edge. Not likely to happen. On top of that - Jesus Himself says in Revelation 3:14-22 --

Rev 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Rev 3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Rev 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

- which translates to - if the coin did happen to land on edge - pick it up and flip it again!


Let's look at the options again, with this in mind -

  1. fear God and be consumed about possibly doing the wrong things
    If we're in this group, I venture to say that we may very well think we're doing OK - haven't done anything wrong. But - have we done anything right? Or would Jesus tell us we're "
    wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked" - and that we should "buy from me gold refined in the fire"?
  2. fear God - but do not do anything, that way we don't have to worry about possibly doing the wrong thing or about having too much fun and getting God upset about that;
    This option reminds me of when the Priests always used to say that we can't sit on the fence - we must decide where we stand with God. Jesus' way of saying that would be "
    I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.".
  3. fear not - and be His friend.
    This option gets us dinner with Jesus! How cool is that?

Jerusalem Ridge is six minutes and thirty four seconds long. So all this happened in less time than that. When it ended - I hit the back button on the iPad to listen to it again - and by the time it was over the second time I couldn't decide whether to cry of laugh because it felt so good.


To close this out - There's a hymn - What a friend we have in Jesus. According to wikipedia, it was written as a poem by Joseph M. Scriven in 1855 - to comfort his mother who was living in Ireland, while he was living in Canada.

I wonder - do we even have a clue just how much of a friend we have in Jesus?

It's not just us who wants to be with Him.

He wants to be with us!

Even the angels have the free will to follow God - or not. Witness Satan as an example of that. It would seem like it has to be something more than just whether we accepted His offer of love. It would seem to have to be more than worshiping Him 24/7. It would also seem to be more than just "not doing wrong".

So what is it about us that makes God want to be with us?

Why does He want to be our friend? (fear not)

Why does He care so much about us? (He laid down His life for His friends)

Why is He so passionate about us? (I wish you were either hot or cold...)


I'm not going to answer this question for you.

God didn't make this huge army of little robots that all do the same thing.

He made us different - He did not make us all the same.

He has different expectations / desires / wishes for each of us.

But - He does want to be friends with all of us.

It's up to each of us to engage Him - to work on that friendship - to see what His desire is for us as an individual person.

And then go for it.

The creator of everything wants to be your best friend!


As usual, the music is on right now while I'm writing.
At the moment, it's a photo video from the Passion 2010 event.
Great music by Chris Tomlin.
The scene when I just looked over to the screen -


DO SOMETHING NOW


If you're into music - see you at the concert.