Thursday, December 30, 2010

"You Can't Always Get What You Want"?

I love the rolling stones, especially "You Can't Always Get What You Want."  I love the melancholy groove that leads into the upbeat "you-get-what-you-need" chorus. One of the things I've always liked is that the message of the song teaches that life isn't always roses and bubble gum but that it's ok anyway. It is the anthem of contentment.  However, lately I've been questioning that belief.

I've always had a problem with "health and wealth" Christianity. These are the Christians that only talk about God's blessings in the form of nice cars and fancy watches while they ignore biblical passages like "blessed are you when men revile you" (Matthew 5:11-12) or "count it all joy when you endure various trials and tribulations" (James 1:2-3). Sometimes they accuse you of not having enough faith if you lose your job or get sick. (Confession: I have thought about punching these guys in the face and blaming them for not having enough faith that I wouldn't punch them.) I've often wondered what these guys would say to the people of God being tortured for Christ in Saudi Arabia or losing their human rights in China.

I still can't get on board with the overemphasis on blessing, but I have had to reevaluate my thinking lately. The truth is I'm really blessed. I have great friends and a great family, not to mention my warm house, comfortable clothes and reliable cars. Here is where it gets really crazy: I have been blessed to receive things I don't need but really wanted.  I remember wanting a drum set from the time I was old enough to remember.  I prayed and saved and practiced my rhythms on buckets and cans for years.  The desire never went away, and God eventually blessed me with a drum set.  

All this got me thinking about Psalm 37:4 when it says "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."  I think a lot of health and wealth pastors have used this verse to infer that God is a cosmic vending machine.  "Show up with your desire, put in your tithe and get what you want."  A friend of mine who worked in a Christian bookstore during "The Prayer of Jabez" craze said a customer once told him that if you pray the Prayer of Jabez a certain number of times daily, you can get whatever you want.  This still bothers me. I don't like treating God like a sugar daddy.  Isn't He more important than all this stuff?  Isn't it ridiculous to have all this stuff when people are starving in other parts of the world? 

So, what's the difference?  How can I scorn blessing oriented theology when I have and enjoy God's blessings every day?  

I think the answer is in the order of the verse.  The psalmist never says "You will get the desires of your heart, if you do the Christian thing."  He says to delight in God.  Everything else is frosting.  This is where we miss it so many times.  God never meant for us to show up to church looking for a feeling.  He never wanted us to enter into relationship with Him for new cars and financial stability.  He just wants us to love Him.  It's that simple.  

My wife bought me a great Christmas present this year, something I have wanted but never thought we could or should afford.  She went to great lengths to pull extended family together to chip in, because she loves me and wanted to bless me.  She does something special like this every year.  One year it was a mandolin, another year it was a Marshall Amplifier.  She is amazing.  But, when I married her, I wasn't thinking about amps, drums and clothes.  I married her because I'm crazy in love with her.  If every gift she gave me burned tonight, I would wake up tomorrow thrilled that she was with me.  I delight in my wife.  The gifts only serve to remind me how much she loves me.

It gets better.  The more I know and love my wife, the more I want things that help me bless her.  I have grown to desire gifts that benefit our home.  I got pretty excited about a Rigid wet vac that I wanted to clean our sump pump.  My desires have shifted since becoming a husband and a father.  I am so in love with my family that I want things that help me serve and love them better.  

The same is true in my relationship with Christ.  The more I delight in Him, the more my desires mature into His desires.  How small a flat screen TV looks in the presence of the infinite God of creation.  Delight is an irresistible compulsion for the one who has encountered God.  

This is what makes me proud of so many people in our church.  There are days where babies cry and music doesn't come together well.  People who show up hoping for chills during worship lose interest.  Sometimes even I get distracted.  But there are faithful men and women of God who don't care.  They showed up to delight in God.  The video feed could go out.  The speakers could feedback. They wouldn't notice or care.  All they see is God.  They delight regardless of circumstances.  They can do it because they've been doing it all week.  They delight because of who God is.  They just love Him.  

As we enter into a New Year full of anticipation and hopes, I want to delight in God like never before.  His love is deeper than we can fathom.  His grace is more powerful than our most depraved thought.  He delights in us every moment of eternity.  I want to love Him like He loves me.  That's what I want this year to be about.  

My resolution is to delight in God.  How about you?  

1 comment:

  1. This post really convicted me. I took a step back and realized how selfish I have been. I spend more time agonizing over what I don't have instead of rejoicing about what I do.
    God has blessed me with life and so much more. My prayer is that this year I can delight in what He has given me and not take it for granted.
    You're a true friend and brother. I'm glad you are in my life.