What does God want? We all know that’s a crucial question, don’t we? It’s not what someone else wants of us, and it’s not what we want, but want does God want?—that God, in whose image we are created and to whom we are therefore always responsible. Finally, we are held accountable for saying and doing what our Creator wants.
THE URGE TOWARD LIFE
Charles Williams wrote in his novel, War in Heaven, that “in the whole world of being, everything hastens toward its doom,” and I suppose that is true if you leave out God. But when I look around me, and when I read the scriptures, I find everything hastening, struggling, pushing out toward life. The white potatoes in my vegetable bin seem determined to send out new shoots. The oak tree down the block lifts up a sidewalk to make room for its root. The catbird in the holly bush chases off any crow threatening its eggs. And the grass grows in my flower beds, despite every season’s weeding. All of nature pushes toward life, and finds it, against incredible odds. Apparently the Creator has inbred that life-urge into the very structure of the universe.
But it’s the same with human beings, isn’t it? We sometimes wonder just why we are here. But God had this urge toward life, you see, and so a billion Chinese and Mrs. Jones and you and I all came squalling out of the womb. And God has gone to incredible lengths to protect us all. He fought a Pharaoh to release our forbearers from the mudpits of Egypt. He provided them water from a rock and manna from the skies and a home to live in. He furnished a never-failing cruse of oil for a poor widow and her son. He poured out his wrath on idle rich who would starve or enslave the poor. He censored judges who would give their verdicts for bribes. And he himself carried, protected, guided, forgave, wept through the centuries to keep his people alive and intact as his adopted children.
THE FOSTERING OF LIFE
Constantly that God gave commandments to foster the life of his creation. Give your cattle a day of rest, he commanded, and help them when they fall into a hole, even if you are supposed to do no work on the Sabbath. Don’t take a mother bird sitting on her eggs, if you must eat the eggs. Don’t go removing the boundary markers on your neighbor’s plot of land. Everywhere, everywhere, protect my creation, foster like do not kill. And if there are helpless among you—the widows, the orphans, the aliens—treat them as one of your own and as I your Lord have treated you. Because finally, you see, I want all to have life and to have it abundantly.
THE FINAL FLESHLY BESTOWED
All of that becomes flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, doesn’t it? Wherever he goes, he is constantly bestowing abundant life. A man blind from youth is given back his sight. A lame man who can’t reach the healing waters of Bethzatha is enabled to walk. A multitude of hungry followers is fed from five loaves and two little fish. A woman who has exhausted the doctor’s treatment of her bleeding is given mysterious health. A group of children, spurned by most, is welcomed into Jesus’ arms and blessing
Indeed, so adamant is God to give abundant life to us all that he will not let our offenses against him cut us off from himself. He is the sole Source of life, the fountainhead of living waters, the One who gives breath and life to every creature on this planet. And were we to lose our relation with him, we would surely die forever. But God will have none of it, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” he avows, even when we seem determined to die. And so he himself absorbs our sin into his own loving Being, into the incarnate Person of his Son. And he dies the death that our human evil would bring upon us all.
But that too is not the end of God’s will toward life, is it, because death is not ever the end of God’s will for his creation? Instead, he deals death its final blow in the resurrection of his Son, and by that act you and I and all persons are granted the possibility of life through faith, not only here and now, but to all eternity in company with our Lord.
God wills life for all. God wants life. And if that is what our God wants, then who are we to defy him, either to snuff out the growing life in the womb or at the end of earthly years?