Thursday, July 6, 2017
God Doesn’t Want Our Things
Hosea 6:6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
The prophetic words of Hosea begin to point toward a Savior who will be dead for two days, but then raise again to life. All will be raised to life because of the work of the one who will suffer. But then, upon reflection, there is a coldness because of a lack of love. The loving sacrifice of the Messiah should be met with love on behalf of God’s people. God doesn’t want the things of the people — God wants the people!
Instead of a relationship they have become bound by legalism, and this has led to perfunctory acts of sacrifice and offerings. The people go through the motions but there is no knowledge of God and therefore no intimacy in relation to love. It is a vision of a future where the sacrifice of the One will open the doors to knowledge of God and participation in holy love. This is God’s desire for all of humanity.
Christianity has always struggled with straying into the realm of legalism. Somehow staying in a deeply personal relationship with Jesus Christ sometimes becomes a struggle. Why? Because it takes time, effort and intentionality. Legalism is actually easier. We can go on with our lives without the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit in the many nooks and crannies of our lives that we would rather keep to ourselves. To remain in a deeply intimate relationship with our Savior means that we must be continually open to growing and developing. That’s a bit more painful than legalism.
God wants us to be in a loving relationship with the Holy Trinity. Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit makes this possible for each and every single one of us. So much of this intimacy develops during prayer. Learning to pray in quietness and to listen to the heart of God is vitally important. Our hearts are shaped by Christ when we learn to listen to the still small voice. Being shaped into the likeness of Christ is far more beautiful than being put into the box of legalism. That box has so many constraints that it becomes painful and unyielding, not only for us, but for others. The love of God dissipates and a hardness of heart begins to develop.
Knowledge of God also comes from that place of intimacy. Daily times with God in prayer and in the word are necessary for our spiritual development.
I hunger to learn more about God on a regular basis. I remember being in my doctoral studies and people asking me about the end goal. There was no end goal, for I had no idea what I would do with the degree. However, my studies became a spiritual journey, one that would transform me because I gained greater knowledge of God. I also came to understand that the more that I learned, the more I didn’t know. There is so much more vast knowledge before us and we must commit to being lifelong learners on the journey of life. The Lord delights in our desire for knowledge of God, much more so than any of the things that we can give.
God doesn’t want our stuff — God just wants us.
Lord, may the desires of my heart and life be to know you. May your steadfast love flow into and through me to the world. Amen.