This is Guthrie Chamberlain, Your Guide to Wisdom
What Does God Want - God Wanted A Family - Daily Wisdom/:
What Does God Want? - God Wanted A Family
Today, we will begin a new, much shorter series that, over the next 8-9 weeks, will answer the question, What does God want? Throughout this series, I will cover the entire Bible in a story overview so we can understand more clearly what God’s story is about. The last couple of messages in this series will be about the Gospel and Discipleship. Much of the information will be familiar, but from a slightly different perspective from your concept of an overview of God’s Word. As such, we will look at various Scriptures as crucial touchpoints throughout the story.
What does God want?
It sounds like a simple question, but it’s really not if you give it some thought.
Why? Well, for starters, you must know who’s asking the question. (different action poses) People will ask this question for a lot of various reasons. Is it a cry of anger from someone in pain? Perhaps it’s a barely audible whisper that surfaces from deep sadness. Is the motivation curiosity? Or is it just prompted by the desire to reflect and think deep thoughts? It’s not difficult to see that giving the correct answer depends on why the question is being asked.
Since, at this moment, I’m the one asking the question; it’s easy to clear that up, at least from my perspective. But first, let me tell you what isn’t motivating me. I’m not asking the question because I don’t know the answer./ I do./ From the overarching aspect of this series,/ I know the answer for everyone,/ at least in God’s response concerning us. And that’s precisely how I’m asking it. I’m asking it to help you think about some essential things. When I ask, “What does God want?” I’m asking: What does God want when it comes to every person in the human race? What does he want regarding me, my life, and your life?
Before I get to the answer, it’s pretty evident that the question is from a religious perspective. Questions about God naturally get filed in that folder. I’ve raised the question and will answer it because I’m interested in God. Many people still are,/ though they may not be interested in church. That’s fine, since you don’t need the latter to be interested in this question. I am speaking not necessarily from a pastor’s perspective but from a lifetime of Bible studies. So, since I’m the one asking, my answer, as close as possible, should be Biblical. That narrows the focus a bit more. My goal will be to explain how the Bible would answer the question, “What does God want?” Now for the answer. It’s simple. God wants you.
That might surprise you. You may doubt it. That’s okay. But it’s the correct answer for this series. Unfortunately, though, it isn’t enough of an answer. You can’t get a sense of how amazing and profound the answer is by just that one sentence. You need some context to appreciate how much love is behind it. There’s actually a long, remarkable story behind the answer.
Since that’s the case, this series is about what God wants and what God wants you to know. Yes, he wants you, but for you to appreciate that and (hopefully) feel the same way about God, you need a little context.
That, of course, is the purpose of this series. We’ll start with God’s story. There’s a lot of tragedy in it, but thankfully, none of that ever changed God’s mind about you or me. As we complete this series story, we will drill down on some parts of the story that are especially important: the Good News and Discipleship.
Before we jump in, I have one disclaimer. You might think you already know the story if you’ve spent much of your life in the church. You certainly know parts of it, but I can guarantee there will be some surprises. Unfortunately, the thing that most often gets in the way of the wonder of the story is religion. Sometimes, church and denominational preferences become more important than the story. That was true of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day and is still true today.
Even though most,/ if not all of you,/ are familiar with the Bible,/ I’m confident you will encounter new truths and new ways to think about old truths. And if you’ve never read much of the Bible, we will certainly all grow in our knowledge of God’s overriding plan for each of us. We will all experience the thrill of discovering what God wants.
The overarching story of the entire Bible is: God Wanted a Family.
Think back to your earliest thoughts about who God is and what He wants. Was it that God was an invisible dad in the sky? /Was God a creator, /a distant power? Did you presume he knew about you and everyone else /but had no idea what He was thinking/ or if He was thinking/ about you or the other people in the world? Did you ever doubt He was there/ not like a real presence in the room,/ but, instead, God was more or less a detached observer whose attention you might get from time to time (maybe when you were in trouble)? /Did you think of God as out to get you, /mind you, /or that he didn’t like you? For my part, I grew up as a very trusting person in a loving home environment. So, trusting God was real came reasonably easy for me, and I had no reason to think he was overly hostile. But that was it. As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind.
I had a lot to learn about God. Unfortunately, it was much later in life, and through studying God’s Word seriously, I gained a deeper understanding of God’s overall plan for humanity. Since I wasn’t seeking him, I assumed he wasn’t necessarily seeking me. If someone had asked me, I think I would have said God had better things to do. I would have presumed that I wasn’t doing anything (good or bad) that deserved much attention. I was wrong. God was seeking me. I just didn’t know it. I know now that God sought me because it’s his nature to seek us. He’s committed to us.
How do we know these things about God? (That’s a question I’ll ask more than once throughout this series, so look for it!) Let’s start with ourselves as an analogy. It’s normal—part of our nature—to care about the things we make, especially if they require serious effort or result from concerted thought. (Illustration of work I do / quilt) We will naturally be angry or resentful when someone mocks, belittles, destroys, or claims as if something we made, achieved, or thought of first. Not feeling those things would be abnormal.
We feel this way because of who we are by default. We’re self-aware. All of us have an inner life, the life of the mind. We use our intelligence for what we want and what will please us, not what will bring us pain and loss. We act intentionally, not randomly or without purpose. Our rationality and intuition guide us.
Illustrations of why all this is on target are numerous. Even the things we think have the most negligible significance are done intentionally, guided by some point of reason. We brush our teeth because we don’t want cavities or bad breath. We exercise and eat right to stay healthy. We get up early to keep our job (or, even better, because we have something fun to do). When driving, we turn left instead of right because we have a place to go. On those occasions when we might do something that could be called irrational (like flaming someone on social media who may never see it or care), it’s still because we want some desired outcome (to feel superior or “teach them a lesson”). And even when we do something unpleasant, it’s with the thought that it will somehow be good for us. Why else go on a diet? We are, by nature, purposeful, not purposeless, beings. Again, the opposite of these things would signal a psychological or emotional anomaly.
The God of the Bible shares this profile. God does what he does to enjoy what he’s done. God didn’t create humanity because He lacked something. He wasn’t lonely, as though he was incomplete or needed company. God needs nothing because . . . well . . . he’s God. He created things to enjoy the work of his own hands. After each day of creation, God acknowledged that it was good. After the sixth day, He acknowledged that it was very good. And the things he cares about most are those he made to be like him, “as His imagers,” as the Bible says in (Bulletin insert) Genesis 1:26-28. 26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings[a] in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth,[b] and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
27 So God created human beings[c] in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” (picture)
Who is the subject of this creation? That would be you and me. This passage is Where Our Story Begins.
Our story—the story of why God wants us—begins with the biblical idea that God is our Maker. Although we can’t completely comprehend that, the bottom line is that we’re here because God wanted us here. God doesn’t act randomly. He acts with purpose. When God created humankind, he wasn’t trying to fill some deficiency in himself. Given that he didn’t need us but still made us, there’s only one rational explanation for why he created us. God wanted us to exist to enjoy us and to have us enjoy him in return.
Because God created us, the Bible refers to him as our “Father” and people from Adam onward as his children. That’s why the Bible uses the language of family to describe God and his relationship with us. That’s no coincidence.
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. To understand the context of the family-centered language in the Bible, we need to go back to the time before God made the earth and the human race. It may surprise you, but God wasn’t alone then, either. That’s another reason we can be sure he didn’t create us to heal his loneliness.
The Bible tells us that before God created us, he had already created other intelligent beings. The Bible calls them “sons of God.” We call them angels or angelic beings. The Old Testament book of Job tells us that the sons of God “shouted for joy” when God laid the earth’s foundations. (Bulletin Insert)Let us listen in on a conversation that God had with Job 38:4-7
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much.
5 Who determined its dimensions
and stretched out the surveying line?
6 What supports its foundations,
and who laid its cornerstone
7 as the morning stars sang together
and all the angels[a] shouted for joy?
The morning stars and angelic beings were already present and watching when God created humankind.
Think about the phrase: “sons of God.” The same Hebrew term translated “sons” can also be translated more inclusively as “children.”- What does a phrase like “children of God” imply? A Family.
“Children” is a term used when a family is the subject of conversation. In the case of Job 38:4-7, the family is a heavenly or supernatural one. God is Father to the intelligent beings he creates in the unseen realm.
The fact that God already had a supernatural family helps us understand his motivation for the creation of Adam and Eve, the first humans in the Genesis story. God wanted a human family in addition to his supernatural family. Incredibly, the story of Eden tells us God wanted his two families to live together in his presence. This means that, just like the angels, humans were originally created fit for the presence of God himself. But how do we know all that? Let’s take a look.
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, begins with creation. God had done much creating by the time the story got to people (Adam and Eve). The Imaging God also gives us purpose. We have a mission. Every person, no matter how small or weak or short-lived, has some role to play in someone else’s life. Every task we set our mind to that honors God, and our fellow imagers, becomes a spiritual calling. In God’s mind, the role of a pastor, minister, or priest is not superior to any other calling. How we live either blesses fellow imagers, reminding them of what life and harmony with God must surely be like, or curses them. What we do matters—and most of the time, in small, unspectacular ways.
All of this is why I answered my opening question the way I did. What does God want? God wants you. God wants a family. God wants co-workers. God wants you to know who you are and why your life has value to him.
But we’re just getting started. There’s a lot more to the story. Life in our world—and perhaps even in our own home—doesn’t always conform to God’s vision. Something happened to ruin it all. The heartache would be so great that God almost decided to give up on humanity.
I understand that today’s message was also a little shorter, but we are at a good breaking point as next week, we will expand on the answer of “What does God want?” We know he wants you, and he wants an earthly family, even in the face of tragedy. So next week, we will expand that thought to cover “God Still Wants a Family.” Please read Genesis 3:1-7 in preparation for next week.