There are three convictions that largely guide me in life and ministry:
- God is to be greatly feared. As in, he should be the weightiest and most significant thing in our lives.
- God is to be greatly enjoyed. As in, life’s greatest and most-lasting joys and satisfaction are found in Him.
- These two truths are related. To fear God is to find great joy in Him. To realize his great worth and authority and love is to find what we were created for, to find our true selves.
And the reason these truths are at the heart of my life and ministry is not just because I believe them to be true, but because I believe they are sorely lacking in much western Christianity.
On the one hand, many have a sort of fear of God, but it has no relation to joy. They don’t love, or even like God. But they fear and obey him out of duty.
On the other hand, many understand that God is good and the source of all joy, but have no proper fear of God. For them, God exists merely to make them happy. He is not weighty; he possesses no authority. He never contradicts their will.
But it is a completely different thing to hold onto both of these truths—to fear God and to enjoy God—at the same time.
But this is clearly how God wants us to see, and seek him. The Bible is replete with references to God’s glory and power and authority, including commands to fear him.
And the Bible is replete with talk of enjoying and delighting in God; it is actually commanded!
But if we’re honest, this is something that doesn’t come naturally. Because of our sin nature, we find other things to be more fearful, weighty, and significant. And we look for joy and delight in many other places.
So this is something we must continually fight for. Fight to properly fear and esteem God. Fight to find joy in God. If God has called us to both fear and enjoy him—and he has—then it must be possible. He must desire this for us. And surely he will lead us towards this end.
In this fight, I highly recommend John Piper’s book Desiring God (in addition to regular Bible reading/study and prayer). John Piper has spent much time wrestling with and reflecting on these truths, as have people like C.S. Lewis and Jonathan Edwards (both of whom Piper quotes frequently).
I’ll leave you with a quote from Piper’s book:
“God is not worshiped where He is not treasured and enjoyed. Praise is not an alternative to joy, but the expression of joy. Not to enjoy God is to dishonor Him. To say to Him that something else satisfies you more is the opposite of worship. It is sacrilege.”