Turn Back to God

Have you ever wondered what God wants from you??  I have.  I’ve asked myself that question a time or two… or three or four or five…or 10!!!!  Yes, there’s been many times I’ve found my soul asking that deep question, “God, what do you want from me?”  Often when a person asks that type of question there’s a yearning within the soul, a sense of lostness or emptiness, and a desire for a simple answer that will help life and faith make sense once again.  Or at least that’s been my experience.

 Recently in my personal reflection and quiet time with God I came across a passage in the Bible in which God tells a group of lost people just what he wants from them.  The back story is that God’s people, the nation of Israel, has drifted away from their relationship with God.  The people have started worshipping and offering sacrifices to false gods, often referred to as local or regional gods.  God sends several prophets to bring a message of repentance to the people, encouraging them, pleading with them to turn back to the true God that has been with them and cared for them throughout their history. 

 Hosea is another one of God’s messengers sent to the people to warn them and to bring them back into connection with God.  Hosea tells of God’s judgment that is soon to come if they don’t change their ways and change their focus.  At one point, in chapter 6, Hosea tells the people exactly what God wants from them.  Hosea speaks for God saying, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (NRSV)  Or another translation of the Bible words it this way, “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.”  (NLT)

 In other words, God is saying forget about all the complicated offerings, sacrifices, and rituals that are spelled out earlier in the Old Testament.  Those methods served their purpose for a time as the Hebrew people were being reconnected with God after having been slaves and living in a foreign land under foreign influence for 400 years.  But now what God wants…love expressed in our lives and an intentional desire to know God not just with our heads, but also with our hearts and our actions.  That’s it…that’s what God wants from the people that honor and worship God. 

 Centuries later, Jesus, the Son of God said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.”  Jesus was indeed giving a “new commandment” to the disciples and all his followers (including us).  Yet as I’ve reflected on these two passages, it strikes me that Jesus is also bringing clarity to what God has been wanting from people all along.   Our walk of faith is not about ritual…it’s about God’s love expressed in our lives.  It isn’t about busyness…it’s about seeking to truly know and understand God’s ways more every day.

 So, the next time you sense the question rising up from deep within your soul, “God, what do you want from me?”  There’s a number of different verses in the Bible that can help, but I believe a good starting point is Hosea 6:6 and John 13:34-35.  A reoccurring theme of what God longs for from us can be summed up in one simple, yet complex, word…LOVE!  Let’s go out into our community and world and live it out the best we can!