Why God Wants To Be Enjoyed
Why God Wants To Be Enjoyed
When most people think about their relationship with God, they think about obeying God. Serving God. Glorifying God. But many people have never really thought about enjoying God.
Maybe God is the guy who just tells you the things you shouldn’t do, and the things you should do, and it’s always the things you shouldn’t do that you want to do, and the things you should do that you don’t want to do. So when you hear about enjoying God? That sounds like enjoying broccoli. Enjoying kale salad. Enjoying brown rice. You’ll eat brown rice, but you won’t like it. And so you’ve put God in the same category of things you know you should have in your life, but you probably won’t enjoy them.
The problem with that kind of thinking is that you can’t serve God, obey God, or please God unless you also enjoy God. Because one of the biggest things God commands you to do, over and over again throughout the Bible, is to enjoy him. Just glance through a few Psalms:
- Psalm 37: “Delight yourself in the Lord.”
- Psalm 32: “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.”
- Psalm 67: ”Let the nations be glad and sing for joy.
- Psalm 16: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
When C.S. Lewis wrote a book on the Psalms, he saw two main themes. Praising God, and enjoying God. And what he saw in the Psalms was that you can’t separate those two things. You can’t praise God without enjoying him, and you can’t enjoy him without praising him. This was a brand new revelation for him:
The most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or anything—had strangely escaped me. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise … lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.” (Reflections on the Psalms)
Praise and enjoyment. Enjoyment and praise. They go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Like fried chicken and waffles. You can see that very clearly in Psalm 147:
Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. (Psalm 147:1)
When the Psalmist commands you to Praise the Lord, he’s using the Hebrew word Hallelujah. That’s a combination of two words: Hallel (which means to boast in something, or delight in something, or enjoy something), and Yahweh (which is the personal name of God).
That’s distinct from the formal name of God: Elohim. That’s his more impersonal name. It’s how the world relates to God. When you see the stars, and sun, and mountains, and oceans, and you say, “There must be a God out there who created all these incredible things,” that’s Elohim you’re talking about. There’s still some distance between you and him. It’s like calling him Mr. President.
But the president’s friends don’t call him Mr. President. They don’t hit him up on iMessage and say, “Hey, Mr. President, what time we going golfing today?” They just call him his name.
That’s the name Yahweh. It’s the personal name that God tells his kids and his friends to call him. It’s a term of affection. A term of endearment. A term of closeness. God says to his friends, don’t call me Elohim anymore, call me Yahweh. Yah, for short. Because I’ve come to be with you, and to bless you.
And that’s why we’ve got this command in Psalm 147: Hallelujah. You need to enjoy God. Delight in God. Boast in God. Not just as the creator of the universe, not just as the king of the world. As your father. As your friend. Because, as it says, “It is pleasant to sing praises.” Enjoy God because he’s enjoy-able. He’s opened windows of blessing on you, as the rest of the Psalm makes clear:
The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground. … He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. (Psalm 147: 2-9)
His generosity and kindness is unending. He’s just the kind of person you want to be around. So if you’re having trouble enjoying God, the first question to ask yourself is, “Does God seem enjoyable to me? Or does he just seem useful?” Is Jesus someone you want to be around, more and more? Or is he a just a tool to help you accomplish certain things, attain certain things, and overcome certain things in your life?
Is God enjoyable? Or is he just useful? You have people in your life in both categories. Maybe the people at your work are useful, but not very enjoyable. So when you have a meeting, you want it to be as short as possible. You want there to be an agenda. You want to have defined goals and outcomes. You want to make sure every second you spend with those people is useful.
But is that how you approach your wife or your husband? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? “I would like to plan an off-site meeting with you on Friday night, and I have three projected outcomes that I would like to see happen by the end of our two hours together.” Of course not. Because your relationship with your wife isn’t a business relationship.
And neither is your relationship with God. It’s something to be enjoyed. It’s not a contract, it’s a covenant. God says, “I’m going to come bless you, and all I want from you? Is for you to enjoy me.”