The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pleasing God

"Pleasing the Lord has love as it's background."
Pope John Paul II
General Audience of July 7th, 1982

Pleasing God sometimes seems nearly impossible. How does one give pleasure or satisfaction to a deity who remains eternally omnipotent, omniscient, and literally owns everything. Talk about a father who is difficult to shop for. What gift could one possibly buy that He doesn't have already? What item could one make that He hasn't already created? And yet throughout the Old and New Testament, one hears the call to strive for that which pleases the Lord.

The first step is to consider this word "pleasing" from a theological point of view. Ponder this question. Is God's happiness dependent upon the actions of humanity? It presents a bit of a prevarication in that to answer either "yes" or "no" to that question entails an exercise of submitting The Almighty to a kind of psychological profile. Given that humans are limited by the finite resources of their fallen, mortal existence, any attempt to say "this is what God thinks or feels" is theory at best and heresy at its worst.

Protestant theology tends to hinge on many scriptural suppositions that attempt to translate the divine word into a more palatable or explainable human experience. They mystery of Christ gets watered down for easier consumption. For example, when Christ says, "This is my body," He must have meant it symbolically. When Christ said, "upon this rock I will build my church," He really meant it to mean Himself not Peter. And at football games when the well-intentioned fan holds up the sign that simply says John 3:16, he is making a statement for sola fide. Luther conveniently altered the phrasing so as to state that belief in Christ was all that is necessary versus the more accurate translation which leaves salvation still in the balance. Calvinists take this "knowing" of God's mind so far as to presume not only salvation for themselves, but damnation for the reprobate.

Still another wrinkle rests in one's motive for making God happy. For many, pleasing God assuages a fear of hell. For others, getting on the good side of The Lord is their ticket to Heaven. In either case, the motive remains egocentric. One pleases God out of a desire for a positive benefit or a fear of a darker consequence. In fact a believer often gets discouraged when effort gets put forth that should indeed please The Father and what seems to get returned is either suffering or an unanswered prayer.

Pleasing God may seem difficult; however, Our Heavenly Father gave a model for His children to follow. The divine example remains in the reality that God actually incarnated Himself on Earth in the form of His beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who told the people, "follow me." For pleasing God rests not within doing for oneself, but rather in the total donation of self in the same way Christ gave of Himself. If one wants to please God, one walks in the footsteps of Christ for no other reason than that one loves Him. To please God is to be in communion with Him free of selfish motives.

John Paul II hit the nail on the head when he described love as the background for pleasing Our Lord. For only with love can one truly gift oneself to God.


Blogger Kory said...

Ah! I'm so glad I hopped over to your blog and read this. Just this morning I was considering how I should always invite... no I guess it was yesterday at lunch... because I pulled the seat next to me aside to give Jesus a place to sit then looked around to see if anyone at Panda Express was looking at me weird. But I was thinking how boring I would be to hang around and got to thinking about the topic of being good company for our Lord... which I think is kinda like trying to please Him. Anyway, I didn't finish my thoughts, but now here is the answer. Good food for thought. Thanks!

10:30 PM  

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