Throughout the psalms, a profound process of transferal takes place. One yoke is replaced with another. The exodus experience is enacted over and over again. The yoke of slavery is replaced by the yoke of God. This process is the essence of what we call worship, and it is essential that we allow the psalms to define worship in accordance with this process. It is important to understand worship on a continuum. Worship is a motion away from autonomy and toward God. It is an act of renunciation and reappropriation. We renounce our autonomy, we give up the right to set the goals for our lives, and we come under the authority of God.
The only thing we must do in life is the will of God. Given that we were created in accordance with God’s will, this is as natural to the soul as flying is to a bird or swimming is to a fish. Far from being onerous, the doing of God’s will is actually the very means by which we experience the joy of life. It is the flight path of the soul. And what is more, it is also beautifully simple. God’s will is simply that we receive, reciprocate and share his love.
The more we seek God, the more our desire for God will grow. And if we keep on seeking God, if we refuse to give up until we have found God and even then keep seeking a deeper knowledge of God, if we stubbornly persist in seeking God in the face of all doubt and discouragement, then our desire for God will gradually outgrow our other desires.
I never feel like I have given and received enough love. This is the wonderful thing about the role that desire plays in its right context. The perpetual nature of desire gives me continual joy in my relationships with those whom I love.
We naturally appreciate and thank God for what he has done for us. But it is too easy to be preoccupied with our benefits and overlook what God’s grace means to him. We are saved by grace because that is appropriate to God’s nature and purposes, bringing him glory as it brings us salvation. We are alerted to that at the very beginning of the epistle by the words “to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:6).
But wisdom is so much more than knowledge, even Bible knowledge.
It is knowing God, maturing in our relationship with him and walking with him
so closely and perceptively that we are enabled to develop a godly character,
live thoughtfully and make proper choices in life.
To embrace God is to allow his desires to rule in our hearts.
To know God is to share his joy and therefore also his grief. If any person is
to love God, he or she must be prepared to grieve over the things that grieve
God. To come to God is to have our hearts broken by God’s sadness, not only for
the world he loves but also for us. To be embraced by God is to be shattered by
the revelation of all that grieves God in our lives. It is to be devastated by
the reality that we are the cause of the greatest suffering in the
universe: the suffering of God.
is a sign that there is something wrong with our relationship with God. The
solution to disobedience, therefore, is not simply to start “doing the right
things.” If the fruit is bad, we don’t focus on curing the fruit; we cure the
tree. This is why so many Christians go around and around in circles when
trying to deal with personal sin. They deal with it by trying harder not to sin
It never works. Something has to change in the heart. Inevitably, the problem
comes down to some kind of relational breakdown, often between themselves and
others, and always between themselves and God.
For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has
appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in
spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is
simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can
never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in peace of
mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in
such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather
it is a privilege.
Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with
a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us
pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink, but let this only
be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall
hereafter be revealed in and for us.
I never made a sacrifice.
David Livingstone (1813-1873), Pioneer missionary to Africa.
If we believe that the Resurrection really happened, then Jesus Christ has, as it were, made an opening in the barrier between the ideal and the real. The downtrodden of the world can say, “Now I have got something, I have a hope. I have a hope for the future.” Middle-class people can get excited about philosophy and ethical principles, but not the masses, not the people who are really stuck in the darkness of this world. The Resurrection, not taken as a symbol but believed as a concrete fact, will lift up the downtrodden, and will change the world. Belief in a final judgment gives us enough hope so that we will neither resort to violence to bring in justice nor give in and collaborate with injustice.