I used to think that God's mood toward me depended on how I was behaving at the time. If I was doing my daily Bible reading, that helped put Him in a good mood. If I was praying like I should, that would help. If I led somebody to faith in Christ, that was sure to put a big smile on His face.
My perspective has radically changed over the years. Today I don't believe that God's mood has one thing to do with my behavior. His disposition toward us has to do with how good He is, not how good we are in our actions.
How do we know He's in a good mood? We can know that because of Jesus. In the incarnation of Christ, God can be seen running out of heaven toward man with a big smile on His face. In fact, the birth of Jesus was surrounded with jubilant celebration in the heavenly realm.
One angel, shouting with enthusiasm above the others, was heard to say, “I bring you good news of great joy, which shall come to all people” (Luke 2:10, emphasis added)! Good news of great joy – that sounds like a reason for a party! Jesus came into this world with a joyful heart. He gulped life down on earth by the gallon. Consequently, those with a hunger to live to the fullest were drawn to Him.
It is noteworthy that His first miracle was performed at a party. (See John 2:1-11) One of the last things He told His disciples before leaving this world was that He wanted them to continue to be full of the joy they had seen in Him. (See John 15:11) Jesus was a fun-loving person.
If your mental picture of Him is that He was a religious sourpuss, you had better take another look. The people who were attracted to Him were dishonest businessmen, vulgar sailors, prostitutes, and the like – none of which you could exactly call “churchy people.” His opponents, on the other hand, came from a hyper-religious crowd who couldn’t crack a smile if their lives depended on it.
This uptight, hyper-religious crowd once even challenged Him about his lifestyle. Jesus answered them, For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, “He has a demon!” The Son of Man has come eating and drinking and you say, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 7:33-34)!
You just can’t please the Pharisaical hyper-religious crowd who love rules more than people. Even Jesus couldn’t! Of course we know that Jesus wasn’t a glutton and a drunkard, but the point to be understood here is that He obviously wasn’t so tightly wound that He didn’t enjoy life. He came into this world in the midst of celebration, lived a life filled with joy and on the last night of His life here challenged the disciples to hold on to that same joy.
Since Jesus said that He and His Father are one, we can understand much about the Father by looking at Jesus. Judging from Him, our God isn’t a cranky old Deity who doesn’t enjoy laughter and joy. To the contrary, He is its ultimate source. In fact, every trace of pleasure you have ever know finds it’s original roots in Him.
In his book, Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton explains that it was his examination of pleasure in the world which brought him from atheism to Christ. He asserts that the thin veneer of secular materialism he saw in the world offered no satisfying answer for the hope and wonder that exists all around us.
In his thinking, only a romantic world effused with mystery and awe – like the story of Robinson Crusoe saving goods from his shipwreck – could account for our sense of gratitude and delight in the world. In Chesterton’s thinking, the ordinary blessings of life intimate a mysterious world: “I felt in my bones; first, that this world does not explain itself . . . There was something personal in the world, as in a work of art. I thought this purpose beautiful in its old design.”
For Chesterton, who was not looking to defend Christian orthodoxy,only Christianity provides a cogent explanation for the existence of pleasure in the world. In his experience and ours, pleasures are Edenic remnants, bits of paradise washed ashore from our ancestral shipwreck.
All pleasure can be ultimately traced to God as its source. A glass of milk that soured because it sat on the counter for three days is no less milk than the milk still in the refrigerator. Both find their origin in the same source, but one has been spoiled by corruption. So it is with the pleasures of life. Even sinful pleasures are the futile attempt of a blind man reaching out for what only God can provide. Our heavenly Father is the personification of pleasure. Anything else is sour milk.