The God of the Bible has not called us to an empty, dead, boring, or wearisome religious life, despite what many believe (or how many people live). Although we are prone to think of the Christian life in terms of a system, formula, or list of rules, we are in fact called into fellowship with a living Person! God himself has given his Son to crush our sin, which separated us from God, in order to enable us to enjoy him, forever! Christianity is a relationship, a daily walk with God, through Jesus. In the busy-ness of life we often forget about this great blessing, and we naturally default back to a “system” mindset, in which our focus is on keeping rules, doing things, avoiding things, knowing information, etc. But Biblical Christianity is a daily discipline of seeking and knowing God, finding joy and satisfaction in him, and enjoying fellowship with the Lord.
The Bible uses several descriptive words and phrases which all point to the idea of enjoying God:
(1) Loving God.
It is truly amazing to understand that God has called us, commanded us, and enabled us in Christ to love him! He doesn’t merely want our obedience or our conformity to rituals; he wants our love! Jesus, quoting Deuteronomy, declared that the greatest and most important of all God’s commands is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Mat 22:37). The idea of loving something or someone removes all negative connotations – we are not bored with something we love; we do not have to be forced to talk with someone we love. It is our joy!
The idea of love naturally carries with it the idea of enjoyment. We enjoy the things we love; we enjoy being with the people we love. Christ said God’s number one requirement of us is that we love him. He described this love as involving our entire person (heart, soul, mind), all of who we are. We are to love him in our inner person, which overflows in our outward actions, giving them meaning. Loving God with our heart, soul, and mind is seen in our affections towards God and our thoughts about him. It is shown in our faith, our worship, our prayer, meditating/thinking deeply on his word, and being aware of his presence. This is the most important part of our lives, and the secret of our spiritual strength and joy. We neglect our walk of love with God to our ruin.
Consider the difference between someone who is trying to adhere to a religion, and someone who is growing in love toward the person of God.
(2) Delighting in God.
Another helpful biblical phrase that describes our daily discipline of enjoying God is the concept of delighting in him. Psalm 37:4 instructs God’s people to “delight yourself in the LORD.” In the context of the psalm, delighting oneself in the Lord is in contrast to fretting over the wicked. Instead of worry, anxiety, and stress because of outward problems and people, the psalm calls the worshiper to trust God and keep serving him, with a joyful focus. Trust him to fight our battles. Delight in him as the one who takes care of us.
Verse 7 calls us to be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. It gives the picture of a heart that is at peace in the presence of God, even while storms are raging all around. There is a delight in the person of God himself that sustains his people through difficulties. Related to delighting in the person of God is delighting in his word, the Scriptures. God’s word is how we know God, for he has revealed himself to us in the Bible. Jeremiah can speak of eating up God’s words, which became to him “a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer 15:16). David could also describe the righteous worshiper of God: “his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). This is the enjoyment of God!
What would you say is the delight of your heart?
(3) Knowing God.
Scripture frequently speaks of the blessing of knowing God personally. Knowing God does involve knowing true information about him. God has revealed himself to us through creation (Psalm 19:1), and in a greater way in his word, showing us his attributes: his wisdom, his mighty power, his righteous justice and wrath, and his tender mercy and love! In Christ, we have the greatest revelation of God (Heb 1:1-3). Yet, knowing God involves more than knowing information. To know God is to enjoy friendship with him, to have inward fellowship with him (2 Cor 13:14); it is to enjoy intimacy with the infinite one. God says instead of boasting in riches or wisdom or strength, let the one who boasts do so because he knows God, and understands his character (Jer 9:23-24). Scripture says, “The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant” (Psalm 25:14). Through Christ’s sacrifice, believers have been made alive to God, and have been granted access into his presence!
Are you growing in your experience of knowing God through his word?
(4) Rejoicing in God.
The kingdom of heaven is described by Jesus as being like a man who discovered a buried treasure, and then went and sold all that he owned to buy the field where the treasure was buried (Mat 13:44). Jesus said he did this “in his joy.” Christianity is not making yourself do things you really don’t want to do, or trying really hard to be good. It is experiencing a new birth through the power of the gospel, and receiving from God a new heart! It is being regenerated – made alive by God – so that you see the wonder and the awe and the majesty, beauty, and glory of God and his kingdom! You suddenly have joy in him; joy that is happy to lose everything else, because he is enough.
Because of this, the Scripture repeatedly calls believers to rejoice in God, or to set him as the object of our joy, rather than other things or people (Phil 4:4). “Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (1 Chron 16:10-11). Even when we are sad, hurting, confused, angry, or overwhelmed, we can still experience a deep and lasting joy in the person of God. We can enjoy him. [See Psalm 40:16; Isa 61:10; Hab 3:18]
Has God given you a heart that is happy in him?
(5) Satisfaction in God.
Another way the Bible describes our enjoyment of God is through the lens of being satisfied in him. Other things promise to satisfy us, but can never truly and lastingly meet the needs that God alone can fill. Sin begins when we fail to believe that God can satisfy us, and so we look for satisfaction elsewhere. This is the essence of idolatry. It is why we sin. Greed and lust and selfishness have room to grow in our hearts when we aren’t satisfying our souls in God. When we are not practicing the daily discipline of enjoying God, feasting our souls on him, we are setting ourselves up to fall for temptation and sin.
The prophet Jeremiah describes God’s people, who have experienced his salvation, as singing loudly to him, “radiant” and “satisfied” with his goodness (Jer 31:11-14). To them he gives the promise, “I will satisfy the weary soul” (Jer 31:25). Whoever fears the Lord “rests satisfied” (Prov 19:23). Because of this, believer are taught to pray in the psalms, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Ps 90:14). This is a prayer to be satisfied in God! Psalm 63 expresses in passionate, descriptive language the worshiper who is enjoying God. He is seeking God, thirsty for his presence. To him, God’s love is “better than life,” and so he knows that, in God, “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food” (v5). (See also Ps 65:4)
Are you practicing the discipline of satisfying your soul in God? Is he truly enough?
Putting This Into Practice
Enjoying God is a daily discipline of the Christian faith because God commands us to enjoy him, to love him, to rejoice in him! John Piper writes that “Enjoying God is our first and greatest duty.” Indeed, when we are not happy in God, we are by necessity putting that happiness in other things, and are guilty of idolatry and sin. Learning to daily set God as our great treasure and joy is the happy habit of a maturing Christian.
Hypocrisy is religious action without joy in God or love for God. This is the only kind of religion that many people know! When we are going through the motions, but have no love for God, or fail to find him delightful, we are in sin. We are in need of his gracious inward work. Jesus said this kind of “worship” is empty and totally unacceptable to God (Mat 15:7-9). We can’t please God with a moral or religious life, while our hearts are not loving and enjoying God.
Enjoying God is also a daily discipline, because it requires a constant tending of our heart. When we neglect the daily walk with God, weeds grow up, and the garden of our heart needs weeding and cultivating. Every relationship requires time, effort, and communication in order to grow and be healthy and fruitful. We must grow in our relationship with God, in our enjoyment of him. We must “seek his presence continually” (1 Chron 16:11). If you have neglected this daily discipline, start by repentance and confession of this sin to the Lord. Ask him for help. Reach out to a mature believer who enjoys God, and ask them to help you.
Enjoying God is helpful in our fight against sin. John Piper has said that our greatest weapon against lust is our joy in God. This is also true for other temptations and sins. The more we are enjoying the Lord and resting satisfied in him, the less we will run after other things. When we are full of God, we are not hungry for lesser meals.
Perhaps nothing is more essential to a daily practice of enjoying God as prayer and God’s word. Learn to go through the day in an attitude of constant prayer, which is informed, guided, and structured by the Scriptures. Think deeply on the truths of the Bible; fill your mind with the attributes of God, his glory, his awesome works. Meditate on the truths of the Person and work of Christ. Practice enjoying God in your private life, but share it with others! Learn to enjoy God together with your spouse and family. Speak of it to others in your church family. Let this be something believers talk about openly, and pray for one another about regularly. We enjoy God in our private walk, and then we come together in the gatherings of the church to enjoy him together!
Finally, never forget that our enjoyment of God is only possible because of the work of Jesus Christ for us on the cross. He suffered for our sins “that he might bring us to God “(1 Pet 3:18). He has removed everything that hinders our enjoyment of God, forever!