Somewhere along the way it became popular to equate Christian maturity to a sombre fulfillment of duty. Godliness was measured in seriousness. The attitude seems to be the Christian life is meant to be painful and serious now and joyful in eternity. It’s a short term pain for long term gain sort of deal. This is so wrong.
The Scriptures never portray the appropriate response to God as dispassionate, dutiful, sober obedience. On the contrary! We are instructed to delight in the law (Psalm 1:2), to delight in doing God’s will (Psalm 40:8), and to delight in God himself (Psalm 37:4). We are commanded to rejoice in the Lord in all circumstances, again Paul says, rejoice (Philippians 4:4)! Our entire lives are to be one of worshipful response (Romans 12:1). Jesus instructs us that obedience to his words leads to maximum joy (John 15:11). What kind of giver does God love? Not a reluctant one or one under compulsion, for “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Over and over again we are commanded—yes commanded!—to delight in God.
It’s wrong to think that the world offers pleasure, while God calls us to duty. The truth is that the world offers fake pleasure, while God offers real pleasure. “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). God alone satisfies the longing of our hearts. God alone offers true joy. All other promises of joy will fail us and let us down: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26). Our bodies and hearts will fail us. So will our cars, our homes, our family, our work and our hobbies. God alone will truly fulfill our desires.
As we encounter God’s truth, revealed in Jesus, we cannot remain the same. Truth leads us to a joyful, spiritual, passionate, worshipful, God-magnifying, satisfying, emotional, active response. We don’t just understand truth, but we feel it. Worship is a response to God that engages the mind and the heart (John 4:23). This is such a theme in the New Testament, that to grow in maturity is not to grow in information, but to grow in passion and love for Jesus. As the gospel shapes us, we live more and more for God’s glory and joyful delight in him.
John Piper puts it this way, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” The purpose of life is to glorify God, and the best way we can possibly do that is for us to find our satisfaction in God, and thus show him to be supremely satisfying over all else. We don’t worship through painful and joyless duty. That doesn’t honor God. It actually diminishes His glory. What brings God maximum glory in our lives is when we worship by finding our delight, joy and satisfaction in Him. In so doing we display Him as the supreme treasure of the universe and the One that our hearts have always longed for.