Tuesday, March 02, 2004

"What Makes God Smile?"
or, "Are you sure it's me, Lord?"

Chapter 9 of Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life is "What Makes God Smile?" Warren says the smile of God is the first purpose of your life.

Warren uses Noah as a clear example of a life that gives pleasure to God. When God, regretting making humankind, was about to wipe out the world, he instead chose Noah, who pleased him, to save us. Noah followed God's will despite all the obstacles in his path.

"God made you to love you, and he longs for you to love him back. He says, 'I don't want your sacrifices -- I want your love; I don't want your offerings -- I want you to know me." (Hosea 6.6, LB)

Trust, wholehearted obedience, praise and thanks, and use of our abilities all please God. It's a reciprocal act -- We enjoy what God has done for us, we express that to God, which brings Him joy, which brings us joy.

Warren even uses the "G" word in this chapter: Grace. About time.

I like most of what Warren says in this chapter, even though sometimes he sounds like he's writing for sixth graders. The quote from Hosea is one of the best things I've encountered.

I'll quibble a bit with Warren's assertion that Noah obeyed God without any hesitation. He must have wondered if he heard God right -- building an ark in the desert? But Noah did all that was commanded of him.

All of the ones accorded the status of "righteous" were confused and hesitant, I think.

I was confused by the term "righteous" when I first started reading the Bible. Noah, Abraham, Moses -- all were called "righteous" though all had some obvious character flaws. Noah had a little drinking problem; Abraham often had trouble telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Then there was Moses. He tried to get out of it from the very beginning, telling God, 'Who, me? Surely you don't want me. Why, I can't even talk right. Why don't you use Aaron over yonder. He can talk better and lead the people. Nobody would believe me, anyway.'

Of course, God insisted on using Moses. Moses got fed up and tried to hand the stiff-necked, whiny bunch people he led out of Egypt back to God, but God wasn't having nothin' doing. They were Moses' problem (though God gave Moses His help).

So, I don't see robotic obedience as what God calls for. He calls for us to obey even though we're not sure, even though we don't know what's going on, even though we don't understand what God is doing, and sometimes we just don't feel like doing it anyway. But we do it because God asked us to and we realize that's enough.

We love Him enough to obey, and God smiles.

So these righteous guys weren't always very "righteous," but when it came down to it, they were obedient, and God cherished and honored that and accorded them the stature of "righteousness."

Even Paul, that notorious Christian-slayer, was able to claim, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." (Timothy 4:7-8, KJV)

Paul could only call himself righteous because once Christ made himself known to Paul, Paul obeyed, pleasing God, and through the grace of God, Paul was made righteous.

To want to please the Lord. In love, trust, obedience. That's what it all boils down to.

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