Our Bible verse:
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise
Back in high school, talent shows were both the most beautiful and most terrifying kind of events. An average student believing they have a unique talent submits that uniqueness to a panel of judges who deem whether that uniqueness is good enough to merit a place in the show. This filtering results in a beautiful arrangement of individuals who were thoroughly amazing, but leaves others with a gentle refusal because “their rendition of Lady Gaga’s latest was great, but just missing a little something—just not quite good enough”.
Pleasing a couple of talent show judges is hard enough, imagine what it would take to please God! Unfortunately, even knowing this, I often find myself working towards impressing God the talent show judge, since filling up God’s secret goodness meter is something I have control over. I’ll volunteer(5 points), go to Bible study(5 points), and be nice to a random person(5 points), because all my points will add up and God will surely take notice of me, won’t he?
With this mindset, it’s easy to give into the temptation of “more”. That we are somehow not good enough for God as we are, and that we have to do something to get on Talent Show God of More’s good side. We’re all competing for a spot in the cosmic talent show, and God’s the final barrier to entry.
I believe that we are all born with an innate desire to please God. It’s a good desire, that can be realized through a hand-in-hand relationship with God, or crushed under the pressure of religious guilt and obligation. Pleasing God is a relationship that thrives on the dynamic of delight, God delighting in you, you delighting in God. Performing for God is a relationship held captive by demand.
Talent Show God of More is hard to please, and in the end, we end up desperately trying to earn something that has already been offered to us. As we keep doing over our performances to reach God of More’s standard, we being to lose sight of God’s inexplicable delight in us and our life beings to devolve into increasing rounds of talent show auditions. The saddest part of this drama is that when we’ve finally worked ourselves to exhaustion and fall off that stage, we find that the seated at that dark and demanding panel of judges is not the God of More—but you and I, demanding ourselves to reach ever higher standards to earn a spot in God’s heart and win a prize that had been offered to us long before we had even made plans of auditioning.
God delights in our sheer existence, not at the flawlessness of our performances. He loves us for who we are, not what we do. More often than not, God is the one that shouted the loudest encouragements when you stumbled across that stage, and cheered the most when you nailed that last song. We don’t have to seek to impress God; he has already welcomed us with open arms to a place of love and acceptance. It is from here that I long to serve him, not the other way around.
If you find yourself trying to stack up to God of More’s standards in an ever more exhausting effort to earn his love, please stop performing for a moment. You’ll finally hear the cheers of God who has been rooting for you since the very, very beginning.