Pleasing people or pleasing God

April 4, 2008

books / spirituality / theology

Occasionally, things occur to me that are fairly obvious, but have never really hit me before. Today, one of those hit me.

As humans, we are much harder to please than God is. People are finicky, inconsistent, utterly strange creatures, and pleasing all of us with anything at all is entirely impossible. Pleasing even one of us on a consistent basis is incredibly difficult.

The horror of our lives is that we spend them running around in agony, desperately trying to find people who will be pleased with us, desperately trying to appease those who are not pleased with us, and then on top of it all we who believe that God’s opinions of us matter feel like we are an utter disappointment to him.

Imagine that. I spend days, from time to time, in the belief that no one is happy with me. During those days or moments, my emotional well-being is depending on a person, or people, who will probably have a different opinion of me in the next few minutes. And typically, I am one of those people who are blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) with relative indifference toward the opinions and whims of people around me.

Contrast this with the ways that I can be, and already am, pleasing to God. Several months ago, I read TrueFaced, a book that contrasts our constant attempts to force ourselves to please God (which do not please him) with simple, but ruthless, trust in God (which does please him). Part of it says this:

We will never please God through our efforts to become godly. Rather, we will only please God – and become godly – when we trust God.

Really let that sink in for a minute. We will only please God when we trust him. That’s it. It’s that easy. Everything else comes from that.

There doesn’t have to be any more running around in circles between people who are angry with or disappointed in me for all kinds of different reasons. There doesn’t need to be any more constant shame at my failures to live up to the standards I place on myself. There doesn’t need to be any more legalistic bondage under which I place myself in an attempt to appease my creator.

I please him. Right now, I make Jesus happy. I trust in his acceptance and love for me, and that makes me righteous. That puts my character, right now, squarely in the process of being formed into his.