Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Does God Really Want?

Everyone has an opinion about what God wants. Some people believe He simply agrees with them on every issue. (God just wants what they want. Just be sincere.) Some people believe God wants everyone to "just get along." And then there are people who believe that God is too demanding. There is nothing worth doing if not done perfectly. He can't be pleased.

In Matthew 9:9-13 Jesus invites a tax collector, Matthew, to follow him. Matthew agrees to leave his current life to be a disciple of Jesus. So, he invites Jesus to his home for a party to celebrate. This caused a bit of an uproar from the religious leaders because tax collectors, and their sinner friends were not the kind of people the Messiah should be associated with. The Messiah, according to Malachi 4:1-3, is suppose to condemn sinners and come for the righteous "with healing in his wings."

Curiously, Jesus answers his critics in an unexpected manner. He said that he came as a doctor for the sick (sinners) not for the well (righteous). In other words, the religious leaders saw a problem. Jesus saw his mission.

But Jesus doesn't stop here. Jesus goes on to explain what God wants: He wants mercy, not sacrifice. Here, Jesus quotes the Old Testament prophet, Hosea. There, God's message is a plea for Israel to repent, and He would forgive them. God wanted them to understand that their religious sacrifices cannot save them. And the only solution was to come to Him to have life.

Essentially, Jesus is saying that this is what he is all about. He has come to fulfill what God wants. And He wants people to repent and give their allegiance to Him. And Jesus is the means. For in Hebrews 10:5-8 it states that Jesus offered his body in replacement of the sacrificial system, to bring sinners to God.

This is good news. Our efforts at being acceptable to God, other people, or even ourselves will never cut it. But, by grace and mercy (through Christ's sacrifice) we are invited into relationship with God. We only need to repent and give all our allegiance to Jesus; letting go of our efforts, striving, and self-hope. That's what God wants.

Is that what we want?

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