But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
— Matthew 6:33
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, is this: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
— Mark 12: 29–31
We were designed to please the Lord. But it’s no wonder that we often get it wrong and go down the path of pleasing others. By serving God, we are trying to serve a leader we cannot see, a voice we cannot literally hear and a plan we have trouble apprehending. Indeed, how easy it is to get off track and follow after people we know, hear, see and understand. Understanding how to please God is hard and complicated. People are easy. At least that’s the way it feels. But is this true?
Remember when you were a child (perhaps to some degree even now), and you sought after the constant affirmation of your parents’ love? I remember once receiving a gift from my dad that was clearly meant for my sister. He had confused our birthdays. So I pretended to love the gift, because it came from him and I wanted him to love that I loved it, even though I was hurt that he had confused my interests with my sister’s. Kids do this. They’ll hide a lot of pain in order to receive love. Likewise, you find that your own children seek to draw your praise from every tiny, mundane activity they do. And they are pained by any indication of rejection. This pure desire to please we see in children, uncorrupted by so much pride and prejudice developed later, is a clear reflection of how we are designed. In the same way that our biological inheritance causes us to seek the approval of our dads, our spiritual inheritance causes us to seek the approval of our Father. God gave us the biological drive as a reflection of our spiritual drive. The difference is that our dads, no matter how perfect or well-intended they are, can hurt. They are only human.
But God the Father is unchanging. In his presence we cannot be hurt. His love is pure and without error. He is not good, he is goodness itself. He is not loving, he is love itself. It is from his very nature that these things flow. Though we seek after him through a glass darkly, he waits with open arms, leading us gently to him. We are to be like his children, continually seeking his praise and his presence.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
— Matthew 18:3
C.S. Lewis put it this way:
”Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity