Friday, January 17, 2003

Planned for Pleasure

'When we are motivated by goals that have deep meaning, by dreams that need completion, by pure love that needs expressing, then we truly live life.'
-Grieg Anderson

The new year has just begun, and many of us made resolutions. Like, maybe, 'Lose 10kgs by the end of January.' Or for the more spiritual among us, 'Pray for 2 hours every day and never think an evil thought again.' If my track record is anything to go by, I will probably fail in many of mine. Some because they are over ambitious. Some because I lack discipline. But mostly, we fail, because there is no driving force behind our goals.

Our lives are hinged on purposes. We strive to reach what we believe in. But if we lack purpose we are easily discouraged when the going gets tough. We need purpose. And the true purpose of our lives can only be found by going back to the manufacturer - God who created us..

I saw a comic interview on TV recently, where a scientist was being interviewed.

The scientist being interviewed said, 'The idea that sex is purposed for reproduction is preposterous!
'But how would you reproduce then?' the interviewer asked.
'If I wanted a baby, I would extract my DNA, purify it, inject it into a frozen embryo, and let it grow in controlled lab conditions. The way God intended it!'

10 years ago this would have been just a funny story. Today, the cloning revolution is upon us. In one poll, people were asked if they disagree to being cloned. Most said no, it was ok. But when they were asked, would you like to have been born a clone? - they shuddered just at the thought. The saddest part about cloning is not that we are making human beings unnaturally, but that a generation of children will grow up asking: 'Who am I? To whom do I belong? Why do I exist?'

I thank God I don't live in such times. I thank God, that I am not confused about why I exist. I am not the result of a lab experiment. I am not even the product of random mutations in a series of meaningless evolutions.

'Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,..."
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.' - Gen 1:26,31

God made us out of love. He crafted us with care and endowed us with God-like characteristics. Infused us with His life. And when he was done, he said, 'It is VERY good!' He looks down on you and me, and sees His masterpiece. The reason I exist is because of Him. I am made for God's pleasure.

Not for My Own Pleasure

What we do with our lives, how we live, the choices we make, also have the power to please or displease God. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are either pleasing God or pleasing ourselves. Sadly, we often choose to please ourselves first. We displease God in our wrong actions and evil thoughts. We place ourselves higher than God. Sometimes we seek Him only to fulfil our desires.

King Solomon, after spending himself completely on every kind of indulgence, declared that without God, all the good things of life are meaningless and empty.

'A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness..' Ecclesiastes 2:24

Jesus, our perfect example said, 'I always do what pleases him.' (John 8:29) Let us, like Jesus, choose to please God in everything we do, every day of our lives.

How do I live to please God?

In the classic, Chariots of Fire, the protagonist was a seminarian who was also an Olympic long-distance runner. He was portrayed in the movie as a man who would never run on a Sunday, even if it meant missing a race. To worship God was his number one priority. 'When I run like the wind,' he said 'I feel God's pleasure in me,' He even ran to worship God. What we do in our bodies can be a 'sacrifice of praise' (Heb 13:16) that brings pleasure to God. So chiefly, in everything we do we must worship God.

The Bible emphasises another 3 main attitudes that pleases God.
1. Repentance - 'Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?' (Eze 18:23)
2. Faith - 'And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him' (Heb 11:6)
3. Obedience - 'May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.' (Heb 13:20-21)

The story of The Little Boy and The Angel

There once was a little boy by the name Theocrite who worked long and hard for a living. His spirit was dauntless and he was always singing, "Praise God". Morning, noon and night he sang and it brought joy to his heart and to the hearts of those who heard him. Most of all it brought joy to the heart of God who heard him from heaven.

One day, as he was singing and working, a monk passed by and touched by his sweet song came into the shop and said, 'Well done, my son. Your praise is surely heard by God as if it was the Pope singing praise in St. Peter's church at Easter.' Theocrite was happy with his work, but when he heard the monk say that, he remarked, 'O if only I could praise him in the great St. Peter's church.'

The angel Gabriel heard his wish and the very next day whisked him to Rome and made him the Pope. But immediately, God asked Gabriel: 'Why is it I don't hear the sweet voice of Theocrite anymore?'

So Gabriel left the heavens and became a boy like Theocrite. The work he could easily do, but he tried his best to sing like Theocrite but could not. God said: 'I hear a voice of praise, but in it there is no doubt and fear and longing like that of the song of Theocrite. I miss my little human praise.'

And so the angel cast of his disguise. No one can fill another's place, not even an angel.

Come Easter, the angel Gabriel went to Rome and found the Pope, Theocrite, about to praise God in a great way. And he said to him, 'It was a mistake that I took you from your trade and made you Pope. You may be a great Pope but no one can take your place in the old shop. I have tried to take your place. Your voice seemed so weak to me, but when I tried to take up your song, God was not pleased.'

'All the song of praise in the world rise as wonderful chorus to the ear of God, but without you, the great chorus is incomplete, and he misses your little voice of praise.'

And so Theocrite was brought back to his old shop to do his old work and there was a new Pope. 'Come back to your boyhood and sing your song, "Praise God" again,' said the angel Gabriel. Theocrite grew old at home. He never sang praises in a great way at St. Peter's church but when he and the new Pope came to die, they went to heaven side by side.

The story of Theocrite embodies so much truth. We don't need to do great things to please God. We don't have to be somebody we are not. No one else can please God for us. Only you, who are made special in His eyes, can bring pleasure to God in your own special way. And it is a lifelong adventure until the day we die.

'So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.' - 2 Corinthians 5:9-10

We are planned for God's pleasure. All thing exist for God and His pleasure alone. We are planned for God's pleasure. That is our first and highest purpose.

When we have a purpose so great, so all-encompassing, so eternal as living for the glory of our Maker, our Creator and our Redeemer we will always do the right thing and will not be discouraged. We can go on until the we are called home to glorify Him there. No matter what the results are here on earth, no matter how dismal or hopeless things seem, when we align ourselves to God's purpose we will truly live life.


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