Yesterday at Sabbath services our pastor stated that he was starting a series on pleasing God, and since pleasing and pleasure is a subject that I do not speak about here nearly often enough, I figured it would be good to inaugurate a brief series for myself, since when our pastor says that a series is going to be two or three messages long, it can often end up being twice that length or more, if past performance is any indication. And to be fair, as someone who has done my own share of writing lengthy series of material, often that which we write or say goes on far longer than we think it will. Our projects rapidly expand in scope beyond our intentions. So, with that in mind I have a series designed to go in parallel with the sermon series, however long it lasts, so that I may have occasion to talk about matters of pleasing in tandem with the sermon series.
At the outset I would like to comment at least briefly about this title as well. Those who find the title at least somewhat familiar may note that it is a Beatles song (and a very successful one) from their early period of success in the United States. It was, in fact, a #1 hit in the UK in 1963 and the title of their debut studio album there. The song had a somewhat complicated compositional history, but at its heart it is a song about mutual pleasing and reciprocity in the context of relationships. That can be taken and probably should be taken in a variety of ways, but it is not the specific content of the reciprocity but the larger attitude of it that I wish to use as the basis for my discussion in this particular series. I have seen, somewhat commonly, people (especially young women) wear shirts or express rather forcefully to others that they are not here to please us. That may be so, and it would be immensely foolish for any of us to expect someone to cater to us while we are selfishly enjoying it and taking it for granted. Yet on the contrary we were all created to please someone else. We did not choose to be created, and our creation is part of a larger purpose. If we are not to cater to selfish people who ignore our own needs, something that can be a danger for all of us in life, we are not here to selfishly seek our own pleasure.
In our local pastor’s message yesterday was a discussion of two passages relating to pleasing God that I would like to discuss a bit. Colossians 1:19-23 reads as follows: “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” One of the benefits of being a creator is that one can do what one pleases with one’s creation, and that one’s creations exist for one’s own pleasure. This is at least part of the appeal of writing and music and art and sculpture and other creative mediums for those who are so inclined to be creative. We are in control of the works of our hands, and can do with them what we will. What we create therefore is a window into what kind of people we are. So it with God. What did it please God to do with regards to us? Well, this passage tells us that it pleased Him to place the fullness of the Godhead into Jesus Christ so that he could reconcile a rebellious creation to Him through his sacrificial death on our behalf . Our sins and wickedness alienated us from God, and instead of destroying us, which was well within His rights to do, He decided instead to reconcile us to Him.
Yet this is itself a momentous realization, something we could not have come to on our own unless it had been revealed to us, it does not stop there. When God makes peace with us through the workings of Christ in our lives, there are changes that result from this reconciliation. For one, the text itself states that part of this reconciliation involves our own rejection of the ungodly ways in which we acquired blame for our sins and involves a continuing in faith and an ongoing process of sanctification by which we develop godly character within us. From this a straightforward inference can be made, and that is that people who have been reconciled to God at such a cost should be the sort of people who can make reconciliation with others. This is a more contentious area, to be sure, but it is vitally important. We who are reconciled with God will be raised to eternal life to enjoy this together with all others who have shared in this gift. If we are fortunate enough to spend eternal life in communion with the Father and our Elder Brother, we will be in communion for all time with all others who have been called likewise throughout history. And while we might rejoice in being in communion with some of the heroes of faith whom we read about in scripture, as well as in those brethren we are close to or that may be easier to get along with, we will also be in communion with a great host of brethren with whom we may be estranged for one reason or another. For obvious and longstanding reasons, this subject has long remained on my mind. When I examine myself, I wonder if I am the sort of person that other people can reconcile with, if I am the sort of person with whom others can feel safe enough to lower their weapons and their voices and apologize for their wrongs, and to graciously accept my own apologies to them. So far in my life that has not been the case, for whatever reason, and it is a state of affairs that deeply bothers me. Similarly, the lack of reconciliation I see among brethren within congregations, between once fraternal organizations, and within families is also something I have found troubling. We could also use a far greater spirit of reconciliation and peacemaking inside of us as we seek to become like our reconciling and peacemaking heavenly Father.
The other passage I would like to briefly discuss comes in John 6:37-40: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” What is the will of the Father when it comes to our lives? Well, in this passage we see the will of God expressed, that those whom God calls should be raised into eternal life, and that those who come to God and Jesus Christ and those who are called by God will not be rejected or cast out. In stark contrast to so many of us, Jesus Christ did not express that willfullness that holds to the belief that simply because we have been given free will that we have the right to seek after our own pleasure and do our own will. To have a will and not to do it requires great restraint, but it is through that restraint that we become stronger and wiser. So too, just like in Colossians, we see the will of God expressed to reconcile mankind to him, to make them feel loved and accepted, which is by no means a trivial and unimportant matter. As it is in heaven, so shall it be on earth. The desire of God to show love and appreciation and reconciliation and generosity to others is a desire that we should have as well. To the extent that we are becoming more like Him, we too will lack an enjoyment in casting out or rejecting others and will long for blessings and goodness and reconciliation even with our enemies. We clearly have a long way to go.
 See, for example: