1 Corinthians 8:6 (ESV)
Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist
For about the first decade after I began attending church, my experiences couldn’t have possibly been more diverse. I began in the Catholic church and after exploring a few different denominations I ended up in a Pentecostal congregation in my mid-twenties. While my first exposure to scriptural teaching was all about self-sacrifice and self-denial, I eventually found myself at a church where the focus was mainly on what God can do for us to make our lives easier here on earth.
My intention here is not at all to attack or criticize the teachings of different churches. But I do think we can all learn from each other when we compare these teachings back to scripture itself. Jesus tells us that the single greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind (Matthew 22:37). Ephesians 6 describes God as the Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Our primary focus should always be on Him and His will in our lives.
However, if serving God is devoid of joy and passion, then we’re doing something wrong. Scripture is also clear that God cares about our happiness! It’s impossible to live a day on earth and not experience firsthand what He’s given us for that purpose alone. He’s a good Father who gives good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). Serving without the joy that God desires for us is one of the biggest reasons I’ve seen for people becoming disillusioned and burned out in their walk with Him.
If you’ve found yourself drifting toward one of these extremes or the other, ask God to help quiet the noise and distractions around you and re-focus on Him. When serving Him is at the center of your world, He’ll renew your strength and joy every single day.