Do you want more of God? Do you want to enjoy him? We all know how we’re supposed to answer those questions. But let’s be honest. We’re not always sure whether we want to spend more time hanging out with God. There are often other things we’d rather be doing.
Or let’s put the question like this: do you like God? Perhaps you find that an odd question. We know we’re supposed to love God. But liking God?
It may be that you think of God as cold, distant and aloof. Many Christians start by thinking of God as only a ruler or judge. And, no matter how hard we try, we suppose we’ll always be a disappointment to him.
Or it may be that you feel somewhat numb towards God. You agree with Christian truth. But you’re not sure that you feel it. You see other people excited, lifting their hands in joy with smiles on their faces—and you feel nothing. All this talk of enjoying God feels a bit intimidating.
Or maybe you really do have a sense of living in relationship with God. You enjoy his presence and feel his touch in your life. But you want more. “You have tasted that the Lord is good,” as 1 Peter 2:3 puts it. And that’s whetted your appetite to enjoy him more.
Whether you pursue more of God depends on what you think of him. It depends on whether you think a relationship with God is worth pursuing.
And fundamentally, Christianity is about a relationship with God—a relationship with God that we enjoy.
Here are five benefits of actually enjoying a relationship with God:
1. Enjoying God helps us overcome temptation.
Sin is a rival to God. Temptation always presents us with a choice between finding joy in God and in the pleasures of sin. The Bible talks about the heart as the driver of our behavior. We always do what we want. If we’re enjoying God, then sin will feel like the poor substitute that it is.
2. Enjoying God helps us endure suffering.
Suffering involves loss—loss of health, income, status, love. Those losses are real and painful. But time and again I see people who experience God coping better with such losses. Why? Because we never lose God. Nothing can separate us from his love. When other things are stripped away, we’re always left with God, and he is enough.
3. Enjoying God helps to energise our service.
One of the most diligent workers described in the Bible is the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15 v 11-32). But one evening his faithful service is exposed for what it is: self-service. It turns out he was never really working for his father, but always for his own reward. He sees himself as a slave rather than as a son. Compare this to another son: Jesus.
Jesus serves as a joyful Son. He went to the cross “for the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12 v 2). If you feel like a slave of a distant God who demands your obedience, then your service will always feel like hard work and be characterized by joyless duty. But if you feel like a child of the God who has poured out his love on you, then your service will be willing, full and joyous. You will delight to please your Father rather than feeling obliged to obey your master.
4. Enjoying God helps our vibrant witness.
I’m a Dad and one of my Dad-duties is to insist everyone carefully rolls up the toothpaste tube to extract the last possible spot of toothpaste. It’s there in the Dad-manual of pointless Dad-moans. This is how my evangelism often feels. I screw myself up and then reluctantly squeeze out a little dollop of gospel. No one ever seems very impressed.
Yet everyone is an evangelist for the things they love. People will extol the virtues of their favorite sports team or TV show or new boyfriend. And this enthusiasm is infectious. The more we experience a relationship with God and find joy in him, the more our evangelism will be enthusiastic and infectious. It will stop being an awkward exercise imposed on conversation as an act of duty. Instead, as an overflow of full hearts, we will speak enthusiastically of the One we love. Instead of being like nearly empty toothpaste tubes, we’ll become champagne bottles, waiting to explode, fizzing and bubbling over.
5. Enjoying God helps to empower sacrifice.
Imagine your church is full of people who say, “Nothing compares with knowing Christ. I’ll happily give up my time, money, status, home, future and comfort to serve the gospel.” What could we not achieve with people who live like that? And this is precisely what Paul said: “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3 v 8).
Jesus once told a short parable:
Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
God himself is that treasure. The more we know God, the more willing we’ll be to give up everything else.
Enjoying God for God’s sake
And yet… none of these things are the primary reason to pursue a relationship with God. We pursue joy in God for God’s sake, because he is the source of joy. The reason we should be joyful Christians is not the secondary (though significant) benefits that being joyful brings, but because we have reasons to be joyful. And the number one reason is God himself. We have God: all that he is to us and all that he does for us. And so first and foremost, and always and eternally, we can enjoy God.
This is a guest article by Tim Chester, author of Enjoying God: Experience the power and love of God in everyday life. This post originally appeared on thegoodbook.com; used with permission.