What Does God Need From Us?

Last week we heard about the beginning of the line of kings that ruled over Israel way back when.  The kings of Israel are important for a number of reasons but as followers of Christ, one of the reasons the line of kings is important because Christ himself was prophesied as a king and descended from kings, specifically King David.

Which is who we’re talking about here today.  That King David.  The slayer of the giant called Goliath. The ancestor of Jesus.  Must be an important kind of person.  And indeed he is.

Today we read that King David sounds a little concerned.  He’s concerned about where God lives.  The way it worked is that God’s presence existed in the Ark of God, sometimes called the Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark is a box that is a little under 4’ long and about 2’ square.  If you want to know where God is, God’s in the Ark.  Literally.  If you want God to be in a specific place then you go to the Ark, pick it up, and tote God over there.  And they’ve been doing that through their time in the desert, the time of the Judges and now the time of the kings.

They carried around in the desert and when they arrived at a destination they’d put it inside a tent.

There’s more to the Ark than that and this is not a silly thing.  It’s very respectful faithful stuff and we’re not talking about a Pinterest project made out of a pallet.  This thing is made out of fancy wood and covered in God but this is God we’re talking about.  Being carted around inside a box, a fancy box, and stored inside a tent.  This is what has King David a little concerned.  He lives in a nice cedar house but God lives in a box.  Stored inside a tent.

Kings David is a little offended by that.  And so he resolves to build a nice house for God.  Not that God has asked for a nice house.   In fact God says straight up in v7, “Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders[a] of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”   God seems to be saying, “No, no, silly rabbit, I don’t need a house.”

It is helpful to ponder what King David’s motivation to build a house for God might be.  Not to make stuff up or assign things to David that he didn’t do or say but to examine our own motivations.  The list of his indiscretions is too long to go into today but suffice to say that King David was a sinner and did a number of things wrong that offended God pretty thoroughly.  But using Luther’s interpretation of the 8th Commandment,  we’ll put the best construction on what might have been King David’s thinking with this house building gig.

Maybe King David was simply offended that God’s presence was in an Ark, albeit a rather fancy one.  Maybe King David wanted to have a really fancy building to be the house of God.  I mean, if you think the gold covered wooden box isn’t nice enough for God then the logical conclusion is to build something very nice for God’s house.  Which is pretty much the reason most of the large churches were built around here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  People legitimately, faithfully and with great commitment wanted to give glory to God.

Maybe King David was a big sinner and had in his mind that he needed to literally pay for his sins.  Not to buy God off and get a free pass but to recognize that he had offended God and others and so should offer up a sacrifice of some sort, like building God a large house for the Ark to live in instead of the tent.  A substantial sacrifice that will cost King David much time and much money.

Maybe King David wanted something for himself and was bribing God in the hope that God would answer his prayers.  But as we talked about last week, that isn’t how God rolls.  We don’t know exactly how God DOES roll, only that bribing God to answer a prayer doesn’t work.  And that includes not trying to be good to earn God’s favor.

Whatever King David’s motivation might be, when it comes down to it we don’t have much that God actually needs or can use. Maybe we have a nice house.  I imagine God can likely find a nicer house if God really wants one.  Maybe we have a nice car.  I imagine God can likely find a nicer car if God really wants one.  Not that God needs a car to get around, but you get my meaning.

The idea that God does not need anything from us is not to say that God doesn’t want some things from us.   God very much does want some things from us.  The Bible is full of references as to what God desires from each of us.

I think the first thing God desires is what we talked about a couple of weeks ago and that God wants to be number one in our lives.  God doesn’t want to be number 8 following things like houses and cars and all the false idols we have a tendency to chase after.  God wants us to love God with all our heart, mind, body and soul.  First and foremost, that is what God wants.

Another thing God wants from us is to be in a relationship with others, to be connected to others, and to ensure that others have what they need.  God wants us to make sure that we feed the hungry, house the homeless, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and visit the prisoner.  You’ve heard this before but it bears repeating because people struggled thousands of years ago trying to figure out what God wanted.  We still struggle with that to this day.

Why the struggle?  Because we live under the delusion of making ourselves good enough to keep God happy with us.  God is already happy with us.  Christ’s death on the cross and the forgiveness of our sins has already taken care of that for all time.  There is nothing we can say or do to make God happy because that’s already happened.

What we can do is give God a big, ole’ thank you.  That’s why we do the things we do to give thanks to God.  They don’t give out God’s mailing address in pastor school so I guess we can’t mail God a thank you card.  Since we can’t do that I guess we’ll have to act on our gratitude.  Kicks for Kids would be this week’s obvious way we’re saying thank you.  And all the other ways we Bring Christ’s Love to Life.

Our response of thanks for all that God in Christ has done for us.

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