What does God want?
The “Me” generation in the United States referred to the baby boomers (Americans born during the 1946 to 1964 baby boom era) and the self-obsessed qualities that some people associated with them.
The baby boomers were dubbed the “Me” generation by writer Tom Wolfe during the 1970s. Wolfe and other contemporary writers commented on the rise of a culture of narcissism among that demographic, the younger generation in that day. The phrase caught on with the general public at a time when “self-realization” and “self-fulfillment” were becoming cultural aspirations among young people.
I am myself a “baby boomer.” And I’m not inclined to be loud and proud of such a position. In fact, I must admit there are times when I’m sucked into the vortex of actually behaving in such a manner that reflects my ‘boomerness’ – “The world does revolve around me!”
In simple terms, the “Me” generation could be distilled into a simple aspiration – “What do I want?”
Funny thing is this self-absorption is not confined to a generation!
For example, one 2015 survey found more than half of millennials (as per the Pew Research Center – those born after 1980 and the first generation to come of age in the new millennium), 59%, described their generation as “self-absorbed.”
Beyond generational characteristics, fulfilling our own self-absorbed desires goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden and the fall of man. God gave man much freedom in the garden with one limitation. He allowed them to eat from all the trees but one – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17). What followed was a tragic decision followed by tragic consequences
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:6-7).
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Selfishness is the essence of the Fall. But praise to our Creator and Redeemer, for His selflessness is the essence of Redemption. God sent His Son to die on the cross and take the penalty of our sin, reconciling us to God and making eternal life with Him possible. What was lost at the Fall is reclaimed at the Cross:
“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:7-10).
There is a great gulf fixed between the selfishness of man and the selflessness of our Lord! And we marvel and wonder at God’s gracious provision of Jesus – that bridge of reconciliation between God and man.
In light of God’s great work of redemption, He did it for a reason. What reason? The answer lies in a biblical response to another question that flies in the face of humanity’s inherent self-absorbed state:
What does God want?
Simple, profound, transcendent, and potentially life-changing for the one who would grapple with such an idea.
What does God want? Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord sheds light on this penetrating question:
“‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
God wants man to understand and know Him!
And the way we understand and know Him is to first be reconciled to Him through faith in Christ, as noted in the Romans 5:7-10 passage above.
Regarding our evangelistic efforts, there are many in our midst who do believe in God on some level. As we converse with those who believe in God but don’t know Jesus, posing this strategic question can be catalytic in moving a faith-based conversation along and getting to the gospel message itself.
If you’re not sure about someone’s God-paradigm, it’s certainly alright to ask them if they believe in God. If they’re open to discussing spiritual things, and do communicate a belief in God, a good follow-up is to ask them, “What is your God like?”
Asking questions affirms others and informs our witness. And active and attentive listening will also facilitate a faith-based conversation.
At some point in a spiritual conversation, this piercing question may be posed: “Have you ever wondered what God wants from you?”
There are many people who believe in God, but are not Christians. And many of these unbelievers holding some kind of theistic worldview believe their getting to heaven is somehow based upon their human merits.
To add, getting to heaven is not based upon what we do, but our faith in what has been done for us:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9
And without faith, it’s impossible to know God and it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
In Jeremiah 9:24, understanding and knowing God involves specifically understanding and believing that He exercises ‘“lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.”
These concepts are found in Messiah Jesus and in His saving work – as these verses, among others that we could cite, exemplify:
Lovingkindness – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Judgment – “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:9)
Righteousness – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
As you and I seek to be change agents for Christ in our respective spheres of influence, may we, as God opens doors of opportunity, not only pose this profound question to that precious person who hasn’t yet met the savior. May we also share the Answer found in the person and work of Christ.
For the key to life is not the answer to the question – “What do I want?” Rather, it is found in the answer to the question, “What does God want?”