Well known singer-songwriter Christy Nockels has a song called “Choose” that I’ve long thought captures the desire of a heart bent on pleasing God. One of my favorite lines in the song exclaims, “Let me know that You have loved me first / and let me know the weight of my response.” The apostle John would agree with Christy:
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God… This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us…And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us…We love because he first loved us” -1 John 4:7-19
What I love about John’s passage, as well as Christy’s song, is that God’s preemptive love is emphasized, but not to the exclusion of man’s response. As God’s children, we are called (compelled) to love both Him and each other. Not only our we as Christians called to love, but love is our very design as human beings. This truth was brought up in group by one of our residents, which we will affectionately call “X” at her request.
“God made us to worship. It’s who we worship that can get us into trouble. God made us to be addicts, but we’re supposed to be dependent on Him alone” –X (emphasis added).
Every human on this planet is responding to love, either in reception or rejection of I; or, perhaps, in search of it. I believe X correctly identified that God created an irreversible component of addiction in each one of us. We were made for devotion, dependence, and addiction. Yet, that addiction is wrongly focused on substances and substitutes of the Creator. Paul, too, has something to say on this in Romans. Paul writes, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (1:25).
Unfortunately, the heart of every person is bent on pleasing self (there is none righteous, not even one, says Paul in Romans 3:23). Fortunately, God is The Great Physician, performing heart surgery on each willing patient to bend their hearts toward His ways (see Psalm 119:36 for a great prayer regarding this truth). Of course, while we are totally transformed, we are not perfect. It is not unusual to continue wrestling to put your flesh and the accompanying desire of the flesh to death daily as you grow in your relationship with Christ (this is referred to theologically as “progressive sanctification”).
Every thought, word, or deed can be run through the “two paths” grid: am I pleasing self (path one) or am I pleasing God (path two). The Gospel is simple, in that regard: your aim is to please Christ. My aim is to please Christ. Our aim is to please Christ. Why? Because we are His bondservants (see Galatians 1:10). As bondservants, our identity is no longer in our sin, but in our savior! We are no longer under the law, but under grace!