What Do You Want from Me?

Passages: Is. 62: 1-11; 2 Tim. 2:15-19; Jn. 6:39-47
Ընթերցուածքներ՝ Եսայ. ԿԲ 1-11; Բ Տիմոթ Բ 15-19; Հով Զ 39-47

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!

What do you want from me? From us? This is a question that too often we struggle with when it comes to God, in our daily lives, especially in times of difficulty and failure. We also see it in movies and literature where the protagonist, the main character or hero, walks into a Church looks up to a cross and prays those words, “what do you want from me?” Perhaps we too have had moments like this where we ask the same question during Badarak, Holy Week services, during a sermon, maybe in an empty, looking up to a cross or perhaps when we get lost in our thoughts at home.

When we are smiling to the rest of the world, being the strong person, yet, internally we struggle and ask “God what do you want from me?” Regardless of our knowledge of God or belief, in times of crisis even many who claim there is no God as a last resort pray, utter words that resemble this question because they want to make sense of what they are going through.

Knowing what God wants for us or even from us is a natural response. Many of us have heard several sermons perhaps over the years stating that God doesn’t need anything from us. It is true, God doesn’t need anything from us. There is nothing we can do to gain favor, salvation, grace, or anything else from God. Badarak, the Church icons, architecture, symbols, etc. are not because God needs or wants these from us, rather it is our response to God. We believe that for us God desires one thing – Holy Communion. Communion in love, hope, life, resurrection and in Him. We know this through as revealed to us through Holy Scripture and through God the Son, Christ Jesus who came a died for our sins in order for us to be in communion and no longer separated from Him. Therefore, are we wrong to ask what does God from us? No, my dears because the question of what God wants for us and from us ultimately asks a much deeper and universal question, “what is God’s will?”

Every day and every Sunday we pray the Lord’s Prayer saying, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth and in Heaven…” (Matthew 6:9-13) Yet, do we know that the Will of God is? In today’s Gospel we read, “and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (vv. 39-40) Well, this seems simple enough, God wants us to believe that Jesus came to save us, and if we believe in Him, we will have eternal life and be raised up. Though this seems simple enough to understand, nevertheless, there is more we need to dissect because if all God wanted was for us to believe in Jesus and have eternal life, than He could have done so with a snap of a finger. My dears, what God wants is not for us merely to have eternal life. Rather, God wants us – you and me.

“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My delight is in her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you…” (Is. 62:1-4) Who is Zion and Jerusalem for whose sake, the prophet Isaiah writes I will not keep silent nor rest? It is we, my dear brothers and sisters. In the Old Testament, Zion and Jerusalem are the Holy places where God resides. And when we are baptized and born anew, we are born in Christ Jesus, freed from sin and in holiness and God resides in us. Therefore, we become the New Zion and New Jerusalem and it is for us that God will not rest until we are a burning torch, a crown of beauty and the Lord’s delight.

We know that God loves us, as He loves all creation. Regardless of how broken, desolate, forsaken, failed, unwilling, hopeless, arrogant, in pain, persecuted, etc. (the list can go on) we feel or are convinced we are by the world; the only thing God wants is us. But He will not force us to be His. The prophet uses the image of marriage in verse 5 to show that just as a man and woman, willingly and in love come to each other to be married, God wants us to choose to come willing and in love. What does this look like? This is where the original question shifts from what does God want from us to what do we want for ourselves? Do we want healing, wisdom, love, hope, forgiveness, compassion, patience, fortitude, steadfastness, and much-much more? Then as St. Paul teaches us, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15) Handling the word of truth means to live according to God’s commandments.

This doesn’t mean to not sin, fall down or fail because we are human and will always sin in this life. Rather, it means that we “may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…” (Col. 1:9) My dear brothers and sisters, God needs nothing from us. As St. Augustine says in his Homily on 1 John “He is the true Lord, who seeks nothing from us; and woe to us if we seek not Him! He seeks nothing from us: yet He sought us, when we did not seek Him.”[1] God wants us; God wants us to ask what is it that we want for ourselves and though God will never force us, He will also never give up pursuing us, just as a man pursues the woman he loves. Why? Because as St. Paul states, “The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

God pursues all of us in love because He does not want even the greatest sinner to perish but to repent and turn to Him. Will we accept that love, turn to Him, come into Communion or will we keep rejecting and turning away until it is too late? Will we willingly repent and seek Him out? God’s love is extended to all of us, Armenian or not, black or white, tall or short, ugly or pretty, broken or whole. Accept that love, live in that love, and through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit will the Will of God be ever more revealed to us for a life in Him, Amen!

[1] Translated by H. Browne. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 7. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/170208.htm&gt;.

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