Am I pleasing to God?

I had a discussion during a worship practice over some song lyrics which is always a good thing to do. The question of our state of being pleasing before the Lord came up. Now the preface was where does the Bible say “I am pleased with you” You know, chapter and verse? Well, it doesn’t that specifically because that would require God speaking to us specifically which he doesn’t often do. He is usually speaking to the disciples.

I immediately responded that the concept of being pleasing to God was all over scripture. That is a benefit of being a child of God. We all know that Jesus was the beloved Son in whom God was well pleased not us! But, I would posit that because we are in Christ, because of his precious blood and wondrous work of the cross, I can be brought near as an adopted son.  I can come boldly to the throne to receive mercy and grace because I am now a family member.

I do not shrink away from his presence because of feelings of guilt, or unworthiness, or wonder if I am pleasing to God…not anymore. I suppose that this is part of every Christian’s growing experience, to believe the promises of God. To believe that I am accepted in the beloved and will make it into his presence on that final day. This I believe is why the author of Hebrews writes without faith it is impossible to please him. (Heb 11:6) If we do not believe and live in such a way that his truths are true for us then our relationship with God will be very different than what he desires for us.

Colossians 1 teaches that God was pleased to not only fully dwell in Christ but to do this for the purpose of reconciling the world to him.

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

God was pleased to make peace with us. So I have to ask did God do these things, pleasing himself, to remain not pleased with his people? This really brings to mind the idea of an angry God in heaven who scowls as his people that he was so pleased to reconcile himself to. It doesn’t really follow, does it? But I know that our sin has a tendency to trap our minds in this cage. This is basic theology that perhaps we forget when we are looking at ourselves instead of God. If God has taken the time to reconcile himself to us it follows that he wanted a relationship with us. He desires us. 

Now I understand the reasoning for this. When I first heard the song that caused such tumult I thought it was perhaps a bit light, to say the least, but I did not think that author was intending to communicate that we were pleasing to God in a vacuum.  If the author was intending to communicate that we are so pleasing, and therefore God cannot but simply recognize our merit, then yes we would have a problem. But this gets back to the filter issue I wrote about before. If I am weighed down by my past, or I am thinking about someone else’s lack of righteousness then my lens might cause me to come to the phrase in this song and think “We are not pleasing! Haven’t you read Romans?” 

This is putting the Bible at odds with itself. Yes, there is no one who does good, no not even one. But this is the reality of fallen humanity not the regenerated son of Christ. Yes, we as sons and daughters of Christ are people who still sin, but the glorious gift is that we can turn to him who is faithful and just to forgive us of all unrighteousness. “Jesus paid it all”, to quote another song. We do not believe that we are perfect by any means but we understand that our filthy garments have been replaced by robes of righteousness. This is what makes a relationship with him possible. 

See if we forget this truth then we fall into a performance-based relationship. We seek relationship through obedience, however, the real way it works is because of my relationship with him that he established I desire obedience because of love for him.  

I wanted to exhort us to not walk around with our hands covering our face just in case God is pitching burning embers our way. God is pleased with us as we walk with him. This is not to say that perhaps some of us do not have some repentance and Christian discipline to do, but God is not shocked at our failures to be perfect. We should always strive to keep short accounts with God for sure. It isn’t different than going to seek forgiveness on account of any transgression that we seek to repair for the sake of a relationship. 

I walk with my head held high not because I know I am some awesome human specimen, but because “I know that my Redeemer lives.” To quote another song. I know that I have a relationship with the most powerful, most beautiful, most loving, most forgiving, most welcoming, most just, most good, most best-est God ever! My words fail to even give majesty to him, but I know that he loves me and thus I try to be pleasing to him as Paul writes many times over and thus I love him in return. 

Now I didn’t have the benefit of this one in my back pocket during the discussion but I am thankful because it led to this entry, but I am glad but the Bible does teach this:

For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation. (Psalm 149:4)

This psalm teaches that God does delight in his people, he takes pleasure in them and that he beautifies them with salvation. God did this very thing, he came and beautified his bride with his righteousness. Jesus made his bride beautiful because of his gift of redemption. Now we cannot say we are pleasing in a vacuum just as I would not say I made my wife Kimberly beautiful because of her distance to me. Only God has the power to cleanse and make beauty from ashes and this is the very thing he did.

This is not simply Israel because, remember, John teaches that each of us has been grafted into the promise through Christ. We are part of the people of God. We can know we are pleasing to God as much as Flanders knows he is pleasing to God.

So are we pleasing to God? Yes, but for you to believe that perhaps you might need to pray and talk with God about it and do some heart examination. Be encouraged.




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