June 16, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Luke 3:21-22 (NRSV)
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
When we use well the gifts God has given us, God is pleased. When we do our daily work as an offering to God, this gives God pleasure. When we seek justice in all of our relationships, whether at work or home, in our community or our church, in our city or our nation, God delights. If we’re going to follow Jesus today, we will offer all that we are to God, all that we do and say, all of the time for his pleasure and glory.
Yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion focused on the baptism of Jesus. In that event, God’s love for and pleasure in Jesus was communicated dramatically. Today, I’d like to reflect a bit more on God’s pleasure and its relevance for our lives.
After Jesus was baptized, a voice from heaven proclaimed, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). The Heavenly Father loved Jesus, his unique son, and took pleasure in him. As Jesus’s ministry transitioned from carpentry to preaching, he would live in a new way for the pleasure of his Heavenly Father, proclaiming and demonstrating the Kingdom of God.
Though you and I do not have the unique messianic calling of Jesus, we are also meant to live for God’s pleasure. As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “You learned from us how you ought to live and to please God” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). In our efforts to please God, however, sometimes we think of this far too narrowly. Pleasing God can be mainly a matter of going to church, praying, working for justice in our spare time, and sharing the good news with others. To be sure, these things delight the Lord. But pleasing God includes far more.
Of the thousands of sermon illustrations I’ve heard in my life, one stands out as the most popular of all. I expect I’ve heard at least thirty different sermons recount a classic scene from the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire. (My guess is that many of you already know exactly what I’m about to write!) That movie tells the story of Eric Liddell, the famed Olympic sprinter and Christian missionary to China. As a young man, Liddell wrestled with his calling, wondering whether to be an athlete or a missionary. Finally he decided that God was calling him to both. As he explained to his sister, “I believe that God made me for a purpose, for China. But he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure!”
Eric Liddell understood that his whole life was for God’s pleasure. Surely he would please God through his missionary work in China. But Liddell also knew that he could delight the Lord by using the physical gifts God had given him. Indeed, his calling was to live his whole life for God’s pleasure and purpose.
And so it is for you and me. When we use well the gifts God has given us, God is pleased. When we do our daily work as an offering to God, this gives God pleasure. When we seek justice in all of our relationships, whether at work or home, in our community or our church, God delights. If we’re going to follow Jesus today, we will offer all that we are to God, all that we do and say, all of the time for his pleasure and glory.
When are you conscious of living for God’s pleasure?
Do you ever think of your daily work as pleasing to God? If so, why? If not, why not?
How might you live and work differently if you were to do everything for God’s pleasure?
Watch this scene from Chariots of Fire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ile5PD34SS0. How do you respond to it? What do you think? What do you feel? Could you ever say something like Eric Liddell said to his sister? Why or why not?
Gracious God, thank you again for loving us. Thank you for taking delight in us. Thank you for allowing us to live for your pleasure.
Help us, Lord, to understand what pleases you. May we come to see all of life as what matters to you. May we learn to live each moment for your pleasure, using all the gifts, talents, and opportunities you have entrusted to us. Amen.
This devotion is part of the series, Following Jesus Today. You can read the series. here.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Working Faith, Finishing Up, and Keeping the Faith (1 Thess. 1:1–4:8; 4:13–5:28; 2 Thess. 1:1-2:17)