Although we are people who really want to please God, we still often commit three common errors. These arise because most of us are neither totally legalists nor do we totally walk in grace; we are a complicated combination of the two.
The first mistake we make is when we come to the conclusion that Christianity consists of 1) studying the Bible, 2) finding out what God wants and 3) dedicating ourselves to fulfilling His desires.
This little equation leaves out the intimate, personal relationship with our God. What I described in the last paragraph is a work-centered relationship much like that between an employee and his boss. The boss communicates what he wants to be done and the employee finds out what that entails and tries to do it to the best of his ability.
I am afraid that we teach this in our churches too often in spite of it being a very poor substitute for loving God will all our heart, soul, mind and strength.1
The second misunderstanding is similar to the first. We tend to fall into a daily routine, living our Christian lives based on principles.
I used to read three chapters of the Bible every day as a discipline. Once this obligation was fulfilled, I went on with my life. What I really needed out of my Bible reading was to touch God and to have Him touch me.
Reading to fulfill a commitment is very inferior to going to the Word of God to get closer to the Author.
Now when I read my Bible every morning, I do it to reestablish my intimate personal contact with God. My obligation is to meet with Him, not to complete a task. I read until it speaks to my soul; His Word is my schoolmaster that takes me to Him.2
The third error comes basically from believing a lie. We have a tendency to believe that what God wants is a holiness motivated by fear. There is nothing further from the truth. This lie give us an image of God that is nothing like what He is in reality.
If God wanted us to serve Him through fear, things would be much easier for Him. He would just have to show up and everybody everywhere would be terrified. In fact, He would only have to send an angel for every time an angel shows up in the Bible the first words the angel says are “Fear not”.3
But it is not God’s will that we live in fear. This is not what He wants, even though it would actually be easier for us to obey Him if this was His way of doing things.
What God wants more than anything else in this world is for us to love Him completely.1 Because He wants this voluntary, sincere love from us, He has made things very complicated for Himself.
The Bible says that it is agape love, not fear, that produces the holiness and obedience that God seeks.4
We need a miracle. We need to be renewed in the spirit of our minds5 until we have the mind of Christ.6 We need to be changed; wonderfully transformed from glory to glory until His image is perfected in us.7 Only then will we understand with our finite minds what God truly wants from us.
1- Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27 2- Galatians 3:24 3- Luke 1:13, 30; Revelation 1:17, etc. 4- Matthew 22:40; Romans 13:10 5- Ephesians 4:23; Romans 12:2 6- 1 Corinthians 2:16 7- 2 Corinthians 3:18