I’m teaching through the New City Catechism on Wednesday nights with my youth, and last night we landed on Question Six: How Can We Glorify God? If you’re not familiar with catechesis, the process is simple: new initiates into the Christian faith are taken through a series of questions and answers designed to instill the essential doctrines of the faith. While historic catechisms (such as the Heidelberg and Westminster) have traditionally been substantive at over 100 questions, the New City Catechism is a mere 52.
(And for a youth pastor wanting to teach basic doctrine, a completely free curriculum that includes materials like commentary and video, plus runs for an entire year? That’s gravy, baby.)
So, back to the question from last night: How can we glorify God?
We glorify God by enjoying him, loving him, trusting him, and by obeying his will, commands, and law. (See Deuteronomy 11:1)
As I shared with the kids last night, I’m completely familiar with the second, third and fourth answer to the question. I’ve been taught all my life that the Christian without question loves God, trusts God and obeys God in all areas of his or her life. Toss in church attendance and making a joyful noise unto the Lord, and you pretty much have the whole of Christian experience as far as I knew growing up. Not saying there was anything wrong with it; I’m just saying that the Christian life was composed mainly of actions that avoided God’s disapproval.
Enjoyment doesn’t fit into that mold.
I suppose God is disappointed when we don’t enjoy Him, but enjoyment carries such positive connotations; people don’t worry about things like disappointment or fear or rejection when they do something they truly enjoy. All they’re really concerned about is getting maximum enjoyment from said thing. Be it painting or sailing or flying or eating or singing or dancing or reading or writing or whatever, when we’re on a quest to enjoy something, we push until we’re satisfied.
Which brings me back to the idea of enjoying God. How intense, how deep, how satisfying must the joy be that comes from enjoying the One who knows no limit, has no fault, forgives all sin, covers all shame and heals all wounds? What better source of joy than the Only True God?
Yet so many Christians don’t actually enjoy Him. I think it’s because we’re so steeped in the idea of doing things that don’t disappoint Him. I can’t recall ever really being encouraged to delight God; I’ve been told He delights in me anyway, but that delight is usually connected to whether or not I obeyed or read or didn’t disappoint Him. It took all of the positive perspective out of the action.
To know that I can enjoy God, simply for who He is, because He enjoys me, is a strange and wonderful truth. As one of my students pointed out, often we’re too aware of our sin and self-consciously deny ourselves the opportunity to enjoy communion with the Father. We won’t allow ourselves to enjoy His presence, to enjoy His love.
Take a moment and dwell on the truth that God, because of His perfect character, because of His sovereign goodness, chooses to love us. Not for any other reason than that He’s God. To know that our striving is in vain. To know that we can sit in the sunshine and eat a popsicle or drink a Coke, and just be with Him without trying to please Him. To see a sunrise, or a dream come true, or laugh at a joke and God not only be okay with it, but join us in the endeavor – how wonderful is that thought?
I don’t want to sound all happy-clappy, but there’s room enough for both the idea of living for God and living with God. I know the tricks of the trade when it comes to living for; where I’m deficient is living with. I want to be someone who can say, with all my heart, that I enjoy my Father in heaven, and that He receives glory from that.
How about you? Have you ever thought about just enjoying God? Or have you always been more concerned about not disappointing Him?