Pastors Ponderings

Making Joy Complete

Recently we watched a video in Young-Adults group where John Piper was reading from C S Lewis in response to a question that a lot of people (particularly from an atheistic perspective) ask about God: Why does God want us to worship him?

Typically, we recognise the seeking of praise from others as a childish behaviour and a significant character flaw when we see it in grown adults.Surely the morally perfect God who made the universe cannot be so needy of ourpraise. A catch phrase I’ve seen repeated around the internet a lot is “a God who requires worship does not deserve it.” From that perspective, this statement would seem to be not only true, but also obvious.

Lewis draws attention to the fact that it is the natural inclination of every person to want to point to the lovely, admirable or special thing they enjoy, and then tell someone about it. We feel a need to share our joy with others so that they can appreciate it too. In fact, he goes so far as to say that this is the way in which we fulfil our enjoyment of the thing. Have you ever seen a sunset and felt the need to say “Wow! Look at that!” only to realise that there was no one around to tell? Did it make youfeel a little sad that you weren’t able to share your joy?

What if the purest and most wonderful joy a person can experience is the enjoyment of a good thing, fulfilled by their own expression of that enjoyment in sharing of it with others?

What if there is one most wonderful and admirable person for whom flattery is impossible because their goodness exceeds our capacity to express it?

If that person loves us and wants us to experience true and fulfilled joy, then they would definitely direct us to speak our praise of them, as the one thing worthy of that praise.

God wants us to worship him, not because he needs it from us, but because he knows that it will bring us joy to do it, and that our joy in doing it will bring us and others around us closer to him.

Psalm 5:11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.