This article was originally posted as a guest blog for John W. Nichols, missionary and author of GOD is HERE: Finding God in the Pain of a Broken World. Thanks to John for allowing me to contribute to his blog!
"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." - Psalm 139:23-24
A) Life Under God - God is happy or mad, depending on my performance.
B) Life Above God - My way is better than God's.
C) Life From God - I want God's benefits, but I'm not really interested in Him.
D) Life For God - I have a need to be significant and to do something great for God.
(Taken from the book, "With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God" by Skye Jethani)
The problem is none of these postures are correct, even the desire to live a life for God. Because if I really searched my heart, I was motivated by what these significant accomplishments were going to do for ME, either in this earthly life or as a reward in heaven.
God's greatest desire is just to be WITH us. And when you think about it from a parent's perspective, it makes sense. If one of my sons asked me what he needed to do for me to love him more, I would quickly say, "Nothing, I already love you unconditionally." If my kids spent their life feeling a need to do something significant to achieve my love, I would tell them they have it all wrong If a flawed, earthly father feels this way, how much more does our perfect heavenly Father, who gave his only Son to be with us for eternity?
Pastor Robert Morris from Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, put it another way in a recent sermon. He talked about the four stages of spiritual maturity:
- Give Me
- Use Me
- Search Me
- Make Me
It's also important to note that being at various stages of spiritual maturity is not an admonition that you are doing something wrong. I don't criticize a two year old for what they do at that age; I just help guide them into maturity at their pace of development and do my part to accelerate their maturity where it's needed. God's view of where you are in your walk is no different - He wants to see that you are making an effort to grow in maturity, and will step in to guide you when it appears you need help.
It's human nature to focus on ourselves, reinforced by the world's view of having to do something important or significant to achieve success, to be liked or admired by others, or to have a following. Fortunately for us, we can be free of this pressure and released from the dangers of significance by surrendering to God, making Jesus the Lord of our lives, and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us into spiritual maturity. Chase after the heart of God, and you'll find the only thing of real significance - relationship with Him.
Make it count, leave a mark, build a name for yourself
Dream your dreams, chase your heart, above all else
Make a name the world remembers
But all an empty world can sell is empty dreams
I got lost in the light when it was up to me
To make a name the world remembers
But Jesus is the only name to remember
And I, I don't want to leave a legacy
I don't care if they remember me
From the song "Only Jesus" by Casting Crowns