Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Endeavouring To Please God

Orange Standard Article 3 ~ June 2009

'What shall we do to satisfy God?' (John 6:28)

Jesus made people realise the presence and power of God. Whatever the situation or circumstance in which they met up with Him, He told them about God.

All His stories, wise sayings and advice were an encouragement to people to trust in God, to have such a lively faith in God that everything they say, think and do will be governed by their relationship with God.

He called on men to live God-centred lives. He made them so conscious of God that He was called on to answer this kind of question. "How shall we please God?"

"What must we do to satisfy God?" Jesus answered the question, not only in words, but in the way of His life. He showed people how they should live in order to please God. He explained to them what it meant to believe in God.

But first He described God to them in simple terms so that they could know Him and trust Him.

He was speaking to people who believed in God. They had been taught, as all their people had been over many generations, that God is, and life dependent on Him.

But while some of them may have seen God much as Jesus described Him, many of them thought of God as the One who had an interest in them as a nation and who would give them victory over their enemies, success for failure, freedom from the yoke of the conqueror.

Their God knew about war and justice and judgement.

While sometimes they thought of Him as the provider of the manna in the wilderness, and the One in whom their forefathers found comfort in their captivity by the rivers of Babylon, they thought of relationships.

It was Jesus who showed them to God in the tenderest terms. He used a metaphor even more telling than the fine description of Him thought up by the Psalmist when he sang, "The Lord is my shepherd."

To Jesus God is the Father, and closer to people than even the best father can be.

The child who becomes a man may outlive his relationship with his father. Not distaste but distance, intellectual and geographical, can separate one from the other until only relationship remains, without content that means anything to either of them.

A man never outlives his need of God or his dependence on God. The God of Jesus is everything that is good. He wants for man only what is good.

The virtues which elevate man and make him a creature capable of the most admirable qualities - generous, honest, self-sacrificing and self-effacing - are God-given and God-like attributes.

God, as Jesus demonstrated Him, is concerned about man in his needs, aspirations, responsibilities and potentialities. God cares for us!

Jesus had a particularly memorable thing to say about the responsibility and privilege of man. It is to love God and to love his fellow man. The demands of faith in God are never less than these.

The God of Jesus wants only man's good. He is a very different God from the God of many who call themselves religious men and women.

The God of some Christians is a God of judgement who is short on charity and strong on condemnation; short on grace and strong on dogma; more concerned with the rightness of a man's belief than how he acts with his fellow men.

He is very different from the God to whom Jesus introduced men. He was not small like that or vengeful or divisive.

God is like Jesus! Jesus has shown men what are the real values of life and what they should do with their lives.

His example in self-sacrifice, self-giving, is the pattern for all who call themselves Christians, and mean it - all who are really committed to Jesus Christ.

Faith in God is a serious business - not hurtfully serious - just serious demanding all that is worthwhile in the believer. Faith in God is a big thing, not pretty, acrimonious or spiteful, but joy and peace and fellowship with all believers.

The Gospel is good news. We make it good news to others when we live by the standards of Christ, and try to make the kind of world He wants for men to enjoy.

Rev. Canon Dr. S.E. Long