Living To Please Him
The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians that our aim, when we realize our salvation in Christ, is to live to please Him. This is a theme that dominates much of Scripture, but how often do we forget this simple goal?
As Christ followers, where do we place our focus in this life? Are we actively pursuing a life that seeks to please Jesus?
Amidst the hectic, busy, pell-mell, chaotic and ultra structured lives we tend to lead, there is a voice crying out, perhaps in all of us, to consider our true focus. I heard someone label it as we’re living in a world of “W.O.M.D.” aka, weapons of mass distraction. As dad-jokey as that might be, there is a profound truth here.
Do we get so busy being busy that we forget our purpose? Is God more like an afterthought in an otherwise full and complete life?
Living to please to the Lord is being in step with Him, aligning our lives with His heartbeat.
Do we regularly seek Him out in our lives?
Do we go to His word with enthusiasm and joy, knowing that by reading His word we are growing in our knowledge of Him?
Do we seek to have our minds transformed by daily interactions with our Father?
In prayer, are we waiting patiently and expectantly to be guided and directed? Are we staying close to Him throughout the day?
Sadly, there are times when we forget this goal and focus in our lives. There are moments where what truly matters begins to slip away from us. I know it happens in my life.
I recently preached a message centered on John 15. If you’re familiar with the passage, Jesus is sharing His final thoughts with his disciples before His crucifixion. He talks about staying connected to the vine, which is to remain in a relationship with Him.
According to Jesus, there’s a power in staying connected. When we remain in relationship with Him, our lives are drastically different from when we try to operate out of our own strength and power.
In these verses, Jesus is sharing a vision of life that is joyful, vivacious, and set on purpose. And this type of life is only possible by remaining in Him. Really what Jesus is getting after in this passage is the importance of priorities.
The question we must ask ourselves is: Do we prioritize our relationship with Christ? Do we hold onto our time with Him as the sacred meeting that it is?
We all have two sets of priorities in our lives–those we idealize and those that we actually pursue. I have my list of things I “want to do” and then those that I “actually do.” Oftentimes, there’s quite a distance between the two categories.
Prioritizing Jesus is making Him the focus of our lives.
As we read, write, talk, eat, exercise, watch films, go on vacation, and go to work, we know we are doing so in a constant, unbreakable connection to Jesus.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you” he says. There’s something Jesus does here, but also an invitation for us. There is responsibility here.
Disciples make an effort to remain. We make choices, we sacrifice, and “prune” away the excess that keeps us from HIm. And if we are truly living to please the Lord, this effort increases in our lives.
Now when Jesus talks about fruit, what exactly does He mean? Are we talking numbers, spiritual depth, evangelism, discipleship, authentic worship? Perhaps all of the above.
When Jesus said we’d bear much fruit when we’re connected to Him, He was envisioning a way of living that was growing and thriving and flourishing.
He envisioned a new reality for us to step into–the reality of living in the Kingdom of God.
Life in the kingdom is in direct opposition to the pattern of this world. Now, some take this to mean those who follow Jesus must abandon all earthly pursuits and pleasures in order to be in the kingdom. This isn’t exactly what Jesus had in mind.
You can be in the world and very much in it, and still live in opposition to its pattern. Living in the kingdom, you see, is existing in a different way. It’s learning to celebrate what God celebrates.
It’s choosing to love when it’s much easier to show violence or hate; it’s not becoming less human, but more human. It’s intentionally focusing and re-focusing our gaze on Him.
What does it look like to prioritize Christ? What does it look like to truly make that relationship matter in our lives? How can we do this?
The simplest and most direct action we can take is to start being intentional about what we do with our time.
Are we staying connected to the vine? Are we prioritizing Christ above all else?
To flourish and grow and thrive in this life, according to Jesus, only happens when we remain in Him.
Sometimes we have to quit things. Sometimes we have to say “no” to good things, so we can make room for great things. Sometimes we have to deny what seems so necessary, realizing it’s only a distraction from what really matters.
I have lots of questions, but not many answers. Lately, though, I am thinking more and more about how I remain in Christ day by day, and hour by hour.
It begins with a choice.
The choice to live to please Him.
I don’t do it perfectly, but I know the life that is full and beautiful is one that is in constant connection to Christ.
This is the life I want to live. This is the focus I want to have–the joy-filled journey of living to please Jesus.