What Does God Really Want From You?

by E.L. Anglin

Jesus ministered for three and a half years. He spoke to thousands. His inner circle of disciples recorded what they considered the most important lessons and events of His ministry.

Those things are snuggled within the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The text is available online. You can read all four perspectives of Christ's ministry in one day if you're committed to the endeavor.

The authors cover a lot of ground. They relate His birth, ministry, death and resurrection. Personal conversations are made public. Sermon notes are shared. The faith of His followers and rejection by His detractors are placed side by side and served in equal doses. His highest highs and lowest lows are conveyed.

We see what made Him happy. We hear what made Him weep. We feel His passion. We flinch at His anger. Much is revealed in those pages. The content of God's heart on full display.

Perhaps as important as what we see is what we don't see. Isn't that just as important? Doesn't that reveal His priorities?

Jesus never spoke against jewelry, make-up, or pants. He didn't require Peter, James or John to shave in order to qualify for a leadership role. He never commanded anyone to speak in tongues. He never preached "holiness or hell."

Instead, He broke religious laws.
He ate with sinners.
He talked to prostitutes.
He worked on the sabbath.
He brought heaven down and shared it with unworthy people.

That ruffled feathers.

He was less concerned with the institution of religion and more concerned with people. With what they believed about God, than their religious expressions or affiliations.

That's why He was often angry with Pharisees. They recreated God in their image. They made Him an idol. In the process they drove people away from God.

Perhaps that's why He mentioned variants of the word "believe" so many times. The emphasis was turning hearts and minds back to God. The incorrect view had reduced God to a set of rigid rules. The correct view was of a Living God, who wanted a daily relationship with humans.

Baptism lasts less than a minute.
It's impossible to speak in tongues 24/7, 365 days a year.
But what you believe determines your direction for life.
Your affections determine your destiny.

God wants more than your tongue, He wants your heart.

The Pharisees are proof it's possible to appear holy, obey all of the rules, and have a heart far from God.

They were puffed up with religious pride but they were no better than non-Jews. They refused to accept Jesus, believing their obedience would save them. In essence they thought they could make it on their own. How is that any different than the mindset of a rank unbeliever?

Faith is the opposite of legalism.
It's non-effort.
It's letting go.
It's a recognition that one's best efforts are miserably flawed.

THAT's the mindset Jesus was trying to cultivate.

"I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." John 8:24

He spoke those words to the group with the most "fences."

You cannot use your goodness as a substitute for Jesus. Your standards are no cover for the raw truth. At your best you don't deserve God's love.

-God doesn't want perfection, He wants relationship.

That's the purpose of the cross. He hung there, suspended between heaven and earth, drawing opposing sides together. Reconciliation at work in the ugliest of ways.

-God doesn't want your goodness, He wants your weakness.

"Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me." 2 Cor. 12:9

-God wants you to lose your identity in His.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10.

This writing is the copyright of E.L. Anglin and is reprinted on this site by permission. View all of his available articles here.

Page added February 10, 2015


August 23, 1997
Copyright © 1997-2015 by Lois E. Gibson
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