So, just what does God want from us?


 Image by Bunches and Bits {Karina}. Creative Commons

Nothing. What could we possibly offer a God who loves us unconditionally and redeemed us sacrificially? Over and over, Jesus makes the issue one of faith, simply believing him and believing he is who he said he was. Our relationship with God is not based on the barter system where we give him something to get something in return. Every other religious system seems to be structured that way, but Christianity is weird. God takes care of everything and leaves us dumbfounded. That very element of grace has been a stumbling block to many people.

If we had to do something to garner his favor, the whole thing falls apart. God would not be omnipotent, if we had to do something for him to accept us. He would not be unconditionally loving, if we needed to do something for him to love us. He would not be the God of grace revealed in the Bible and in Jesus. He would be a god of our own making.

God has no requirements for forgiveness and acceptance, other than belief, which means we give up on our attempts to try to get him to look favorably upon us. But there is a huge difference between a requirement and a response. Romans 12:1-2 reveals a response to God.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.(Romans 12:1 NLT)

The very context in this passage is one of response, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.”

The response is physical and practical, because it involves our bodies. It is a living sacrifice, unlike the dead animal sacrifices of Judaism. So, it is something we do with our life. It is holy, set apart to him. In other words, it is simply acting like Jesus.

That is the response that God desires. It is acceptable. It is not a requirement. It a normal response to what he has done for us.

Can you imagine a friend who says to you, “I will love you, if you …?” But what would be your response to a friend who loves you unconditionally?

The word, “worship” is this passage is appropriately, the one translated, “service.” In the Greek there is an adjective that is the word we translate “logical” or “reasonable.” So, this kind of practical, living, physical, service, like Jesus would do, is the very meaning of worship. It is a reasonable response to God’s unconditional love.

So, helping out a neighbor in a jam is as holy as hymn singing, hand raising, praying, swaying, going to mass, or whatever. Probably, more so. It’s God’s way for us to “pay it forward,” rather than keep his good news to ourselves. And yes, it is real worship, as real as it gets.

While anyway that we ascribe worth to God is worship, one of the purest is simply serving someone as Jesus would do.

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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