What Does Your God Want You to Want?


If Christianity is the story we are in, then this is the most important question facing you Christians in America as your drama unfolds…


What does your God want you to want?


And our team now believes that if you keep pushing it away, America will continue to keep coming apart. 

So, thank you, Robert McKee. 

He opened our eyes to this question. Because when we began to study his work and look through the lens of story from the inside out, the spotlight began to shine on this foundational question.

And now our team has also come to believe that, if Christianity is the story we are in, Robert McKee may have been chosen to put you Christians to a test.

You see, Paula continues to remind us of your greatest commandment…


Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:34-40

Paula also keeps reminding us of this …


If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither. It seems a strange rule, but something like it can be seen at work in other matters. Health is a great blessing, but the moment you make health one of your main, direct objects you start becoming a crank and imagining there is something wrong with you. You are only likely to get health provided you want other things more — food, games, work, fun, open air. In the same way, we shall never save civilisation as long as civilisation is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

And then she showed us another quote she found – which is so relevant to your experience as the drama in America unfolds…


It is precisely in times like these that those who know Him intimately must serve Him with all their heart. For it is, and will be, His Presence (His rule and Grace) that will be enabling us, so a world that is watching may see the difference God really does make in the lives, families and workplaces of His children who know and trust Him.

To many, these are changing, shaking and even unsettling times. But it is always times like these that define for us where we are putting our trust. If our trust has been in government, political solutions, military protection and the “solutions” of men, then we may find ourselves also shaken.

But if our trust has always been in God and His intimate care for us and His personal control over our lives, then when much around us is being shaken our lives will remain steady, certain and confident with hope from His presence with us. This is a choice we make! This choice can be made even now, for the future does not seem to be looking much better — rather, much more may be shaken, nationally and even globally. God is present and He is in control so that what is being shaken will only reveal what cannot be shaken — His Rule in our life and our world.

Where is God when things are being shaken?, By Henry Blackaby


And because of Paula’s persistency, we came to see that, if Christianity is the story we are in, that question…


What does your God want you to want?


… is deeply connected with the binary core value in the story: loyal love/betrayal.

And we are so very grateful to Donald Trump, because on the day we discovered the Donald’s claim to be a great Christian, which we’ll explore later in this report, Paula also discovered something which became a key turning point in our story.

So, here is what happened.

There is a famous American Christian, Jerry Falwell, Jr., who is the head of Liberty University — one of the largest Christian universities in America.

Jerry is the son of the even more famous Jerry Falwell, the man who began the Moral Majority movement in America.

And look what Paula discovered Jerry Jr. had said about Donald Trump…


In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the great commandment.

Liberty University Convocation, Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Donald Trump, January 18, 2016

That was stunning to us.

It just didn’t fit with the evidence which we had begun to find in our research about the life of Donald Trump.

How could the head of the largest Christian university in America say such a thing?

But Jerry’s claim did force us to immediately ask what the great commandment was.

And one of our team members remembered right away it had been mentioned in one of those descriptions of sin which we came across as we researched what Donald Trump wants…


Sin in its essence, then, is the act of preferring one’s own self, or some other being, to God. It is to place the ego of man himself ahead of love and worship for the creator. This is suggested also by the fact that the first of the ten commandments is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exod 20:3). This commandment, as enlarged in Deuteronomy 6:5, is lifted in eminence above any other moral requirement by Jesus. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matt 22:37–38).

Robert D. Culver, “The Nature and Origin of Evil” Bibliotheca Sacra 129:514 (Apr 72)

So, we looked up the passage in the gospel of Matthew and found the greatest commandment was woven into a story…


Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:34-40

And notice how your Greatest Commandment shows up in two of the other gospels …


One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“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.”


“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. 

Mark 12:28-34

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”  And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

Luke 10:25-28

But that’s not the first place in your Bible it shows up. We found it in the Old Testament too…


You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Deuteronomy 6:5

And the more we looked for it, the more we found it running through the Christian story. 

And this caught our attention…


In Matthew 22:35-40, an expert in Mosaic Law challenged Jesus to summarize the entire Old Testament. In order to answer this question, Jesus must have studied the Old Testament thoroughly. Remember, even though He was God, He was also human and during most of His earthly life He hid and subordinated His divine nature to His Father and lived as a genuine human being. The Scriptures tell us He grew in knowledge, learned things, and so forth. His now famous answer to the lawyer included these words: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (NASB). In other words, God is worthy of being loved with every single facet of human personality, not simply with one or two aspects of our nature. Note carefully that Jesus included an intellectual love for God with the mind. 

J. P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind

So, was Jerry confused? Was he was talking about the second greatest commandment and not the first?

But even if he was confused…

We’re so very grateful to Jerry Falwell, Jr.!

We’ll never forget him.

If he hadn’t made such an unbelievable claim about Donald Trump… we may never have come to see… what we began to see.

Because as we studied Robert McKee, we came to see that …

… it looks like the Greatest Commandment is a Quest…

… or at least you could call it a primary focus…

…which your King of kings wants human beings to pay attention to and pursue.

Commands human beings to pay attention to.

But Paula Wong also caused us to begin to wonder if there is even greater breadth and depth which can be seen through the following…


[T]he well-known but still underappreciated translation problem that the ear of most English speakers hears the word “law” narrowly relative to the meaning of the Hebrew word “torah.” Better would be something like “instruction” or “teaching.” The problem is the English word, “law,” carries with it primary connotations of submission and obedience. To be sure, that’s part of “torah,” but it’s too narrow. It misses the teleological connotations of “instruction” that orient the reader (and listener) also to edification, growth and, ultimately, maturity.

….

Is the Old Testament law, and New Testament law for that matter, no more than command, or is there a story that provides sense and meaning? Is it naked law, or is it parental instruction?

This narrowing process occurs in other ways as well. Take for example the Ten Commandments. Per the legalistic turn of the English, the Ten Commandments are not called the Ten Commandments in the Scriptures. They are called the Ten Words. Even the fancier, Greek-derived title for the Ten Commandments, the Decalogue, simply means ten (deca) words (logoi). As above, pointing this out does not aim to deny they command. It instead aims to underscore the connotative direction of the English, one that points the reader away from understanding them as instruction and toward understanding them as (mere) command.

The Damage Done by Civil Religion in America, by JAMES R. ROGERS, Law and Liberty, May 9, 2018

There is surely more to explore – but our team is so overwhelmed by this assignment. We have so much to think about.

For instance, it appears your God is on a Quest to rescue his image bearers and restore his Kingdom on earth.

So therefore, we expected that would also be the first thing which you Christians were supposed to focus on pursuing — as you live out the story of your lives.

But we were wrong.

It turns out there is a different first focus which your King of Kings wants – and actually commands – you to pursue.


The Great Commandment tells us that, above all else, we are to love God with all our being. Our primary responsibility is not service or even obedience. We are to be first and foremost lovers of God—people who glorify him and enjoy him forever, and express that love through a life and lifestyle of worship.

Worship And The Glory Of God, By Ron Man, Reformation and Revival, (Spring 2000)

To love God with our entire being is the greatest command in Scripture.

Francis Chan, Letters to the Church

Anyway, all this began to catch our attention.

Because when we begin to take a look at the possibility God the Great Storyteller has given humanity a story of classical design, we saw how the Greatest Commandment fits with both the balance in the story in the Bible— in which God created human beings for a love relationship with him – and the restoration of the balance in the story – which you can see in the second to last chapter in the Bible…


Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:1-4

So, the central focus of the Greatest Commandment Quest which God wants human beings to be on…  is about loving him.

Look what Paula showed us…


Jesus’s command to follow him is a command to align our loves and longings with his – to want what God wants, to desire what God desires, to hunger and thirst after God and crave a world where he is all in all-a vision encapsulated by the shorthand “the kingdom of God.”

Jesus is a teacher who doesn’t just inform our intellect but forms our very loves. He isn’t content to simply deposit new ideas into your mind; he is after nothing less than your wants, your loves, your longings.

James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love

Jesus thinks of the primary lesson of the Hebrew Bible (including “Moses and the prophets”) as pointing to God’s redemptive agape, and — here’s the rub — he suggested, if elusively, that this agape is humanly personified in himself. This righteous, severe love, according to Jesus, includes definite divine commandments that are to be obeyed wholeheartedly by humans. According to Matthew’s Gospel, he portrays “the [Mosaic] law and the prophets” as depending on two commandments: first, the commandment to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and, second, the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (22:37—40; cf. Mark 12:29—31). Mark’s Gospel portrays Jesus as adding that there is no commandment greater than these two (12:31), and Luke’s Gospel represents Jesus as offering these two commandments in response to the question of what one can do to inherit eternal life with God (10:25-28).

Paul Moser, The Severity of God

And look at this, from one of the most noted Christian thinkers of all time…


The true religion must have as a characteristic the obligation to love God. This is very just, and yet no other religion has commanded this; ours has done so.

Blaise Pascal, Pensees

And one of our team members found this, from one of your most famous pastors…


This is what God wants most from you: a relationship! It’s the most astounding truth in the universe-that our Creator wants to fellowship with us. God made you to love you, and he longs for you to love him back. He says, “I don’t want your sacrifices-I want your love; I don’t want your offerings – I want you to know me.”

Can you sense God’s passion for you in this verse? God deeply loves you and desires your love in return. He longs for you to know him and spend time with him. This is why learning to love God and be loved by him should be the greatest objective of your life. Nothing else comes close in importance. Jesus called it the greatest commandment. He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

And… we also found this …


God created us for a love relationship with Him. …. What is the foremost thing God wants from you? He wants you to love Him with all your being.

Experiencing God, by Henry & Richard Blackaby

So it’s very relational…


In its most elemental form, Christianity is not a set of ideas, but rather a friendship with the Son of God, a friendship so powerful and transforming that Christians up and down the ages could say, with St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” When it is radically internalized in this Pauline way, the friendship with Jesus fills the mind, fires the heart, awakens the will, and changes the body. And then it sends us on mission.

EVANGELIZING THE NONES: THE 2017 ERASMUS LECTURE, by Robert Barron, First Things, January 2018

Friendship with Jesus Christ is where Christianity begins.

A Crisis—but Not of Faith, By George Weigel, Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2018

We have to make sure our heart’s setting is on what God wants for us, what he has instilled in us, and what he wants to develop in our lives.

….

We don’t mean to become insular and self-righteous, exclusive and judgmental, but if we don’t focus on our relationship with God foremost, then we’re prone to becoming proud.

Brian Houston, Live Love Lead

A believer should be what God wants him to be, do what God wants him to do, say what God wants him to say, sense what God wants him to sense, and share what God wants him to share.

First Response To “Faith According To The Apostle James” By John F. Macarthur, Jr., By Earl D. Radmacher, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (March 1990)

But the goal of authentic spirituality is a life which escapes from the closed circle of spiritual self-indulgence, or even self-improvement to become absorbed in the love of God and other persons.

Richard Lovelace, Renewal as a Way of Life

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

2 Corinthians 5:9

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

Ecclesiastes 12:13

And look what Jesus himself says… 


“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

John 14:15

So, consider this… 


In the same way, you cannot arrive at your life’s purpose by starting with a focus on yourself. You must begin with God, your Creator. You exist only because God wills that you exist. You were made by God and for God – and until you understand that, life will never make sense. It is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leads to a dead end.

….

You must build your life on eternal truths, not pop psychology, success-motivation, or inspirational stories.

Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

And look what your Benedict Option guy says…


If seeing the face of God, and becoming Christ-like in the process, is our greatest desire, then we must stay focused on that ultimate goal. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the pilgrim protagonist (also named Dante) learns that sin is disordered love. The source of all disorder is loving finite things more than the infinite God. Even loving good things, like family and country, can be a source of damnation if one loves them more than one loves God and seeks fulfillment in those things rather than in the Creator of those things.

Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option 

And Paula Wong showed us these ‘first things’ first insights…


You can’t get second things by putting them first. You get second things only by putting first things first.

C.S. Lewis, “First and Second Things,” in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics

[T]he greatest success comes only when you focus your people on what really matters. …. Are you focused on the few things that bring the highest reward?

John C. Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

This may be the ultimate test of leadership: the ability to think through the priority decision and make it stick.

Peter Drucker, Managing the Non-Profit Organization

As individuals, groups, and businesses, we’re often so busy cutting through the undergrowth we don’t even realize we’re in the wrong jungle. And the rapidly changing environment in which we live makes effective leadership more critical than it has ever been-in every aspect of independent and interdependent life.

We are more in need of a vision or destination and a compass (a set of principles or directions) and less in need of a road map. We often don’t know what the terrain ahead will be like or what we will need to go through it; much will depend on our judgment at the time. But an inner compass will always give us direction.

Effectiveness-often even survival-does not depend solely on how much effort we expend, but on whether or not the effort we expend is in the right jungle.

Stephen Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

You can see, then, how the “Greatest Commandment” means your God gives you a command which raises for each of you a simple, but astonishingly powerful question…


What do you really want, here in the story?


The spotlight is on!


[T]here are two kinds of people one can call reasonable; those who serve God with all their heart because they know Him, and those who seek Him with all their heart because they do not know Him.

Blaise Pascal, Pensees

And that is why this insight made us wonder about what you Christians in America really want…


Instead of asking whether God expects something from us or has any divine commands for us,we judge religious expectations by what we want, by whether a religion fits into our lifestyle. ….And usually it goes beyond subjectivity-which is trying to see a truth from different points of view-to the far more variable, trivial, and inconsequential world of opinion and preference. It’s not about truth any more. It’s about what I want. 

Andrew Stephen Damick, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy

And we also found this…


Our secret devotion to That Other God is nothing new. Adam’s original sin was wanting things his own way too. Adam wasn’t alone. The Bible is filled with stories of men and women who were willing to follow God – but only on their own terms.

Phil Cooke and Jonathan Bock, The Way Back

And so… we want to know… whether you Christians want… what your God wants you to want?


ME: But isn’t that the good news, righteousness? Isn’t that just Christ being the sacrifice for all time, for all of us who believe in eternal salvation? Isn’t that just great news, that if you really believe it, we’re headed to an unbelievable place? And when we get there, if it’s as great as we think it is, we’re gonna say, “Why didn’t we get here sooner?” And “Why were we so worried about everything?” Look, when we get to heaven, God’s gonna look at us, and He’s gonna tell us stuff. We don’t know this, of course, but it’ll probably be so simple. He’ll just say, “Well, you know, here’s what you were supposed to do all along.” And we’ll just say, “You mean it was that easy?”

TED: “Just love me with all your heart.” That’s all.

John Kasich, Every Other Monday

When his disciples asked for help in learning how to pray, Jesus’s response was disarmingly simple. We’re to focus on wanting what God wants – may His Name be hallowed, not mine; His Will be advanced, not mine-and when it comes to asking for anything for ourselves, we should ask for . . . bread, for today. Not stable housing a year out, not steady employment into the next decade. Just a loaf of bread. And just for today.

Ben Sasse, Them

Or is that something you don’t even want to think about?

Because if you don’t want to think about it, does it reveal something about you?


Christianity has often been caricatured as the nonthinking man’s religion.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. When you become a Christian, you don’t throw your brain into neutral. You don’t put your head in a bucket of water and fire a .45 into ‘it! You don’t commit intellectual suicide.

So let me ask, Do you love the Lord with all of your mind?

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

So, if Christianity is the story we are in, you might want to listen to McKee…


[T]hose who cannot face the sharp edges of reality tend to shun those who can. This negaphobic disdain for the truth is, of course, shortsighted, in that the career span of those who cannot face facts quickly abbreviates. So why would someone risk her or his future by ignoring what’s real, no matter how negative? There are three primary causes: First: as mentioned, the business school dictum to protect your brand from any and all criticism. Second: the super-sensitive people of today’s hyper-protective culture who find unpleasant truths intimidating. Third: people who want to cover their asses.

Storynomics, By Robert McKee and Tom Gerace

But, in light of that last sentence, you may want to consider something else Paula showed us…


After all, a truly redemptive God would seek to have humans share in the morally perfect divine character, given our need of inward moral transformation toward God’s character (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3—4). For this reason, according to Abraham Heschel, “the test of

truth can take place only through the soul’s confrontation with God, … confronting oneself as one is confronted by God” (1973, p. 165). The center of this I-Thou confrontation is God’s unique moral character and will aimed at the redemption of cooperative humans, in companionship with God.

A God worthy of worship, being morally perfect, would be a personal, or intentional, agent who may choose to be known by humans only via human acquaintance with God’s moral charac­ter and will. This acquaintance would emerge in the conflict of a Gethsemane context, as God reveals via human conscience the divine will and the ultimate futility of life without God. Such a revelation could occur over time and need not be restricted to a moment. Only God, in any case, can show us God directly, given God’s unique moral character, but we must allow for the needed time and attention to appropriate God’s self-manifestation.

The divine redemption of a person involves the voluntary agency of the person being redeemed and does not extinguish that agency. Otherwise, genuine intentional agents would not be the recipients of divine redemption, and God’s plan of salvation would fail. For the sake of redeeming humans, then, God would aim to show us God in a Gethsemane context, in a transformation of genuine human wills based in an I-Thou acquaintance with God.

Paul Moser, The Severity of God

So, if Christianity is the story we are in, are you going to push all that away?

But, maybe before you do, you ought to consider this Galli guy’s story…


I do remember when I became aware of a personal crisis that gave me insight into the challenge we all face. I cannot remember the time and place, but I do remember my reaction.

It may have been as the result of hearing a sermon, or perhaps reading a book. But I distinctly remember thinking that my Christian life was sorely lacking in the love of God. I didn’t have any affection for or yearning to know and love God. I wasn’t angry with him. I didn’t doubt his existence. I wasn’t wrestling with the problem of evil. I was being a faithful Christian as best I knew how. But it occurred to me that I didn’t feel any love for God.

I also realized that even though I prayed and read Scripture regularly, not much in my life would be different if I didn’t pray and read my Bible. That is, I was living as a practical atheist, meaning my personal relationship with God did not really affect much inside me. I was at the time managing editor of Christianity Today, so naturally I edited and wrote a lot of things that were Christian to the core. But I realized that if I never prayed again, that I could still be a very good editor at a Christian publication, and a very good church member at my local parish. I knew how to get along with others, to manage staff, to work with my superiors, to work with fellow church members, and to write on Christian spirituality. But prayer wasn’t necessary to do all that. These other matters were all learned skills that had more or less become good habits. My personal relationship with God really didn’t make any difference.

My next thought was, “Well, if I call myself a Christian, I should have greater love and desire to know God more deeply. Perhaps I should pray for that.” And that’s when something occurred to me with great force: I wasn’t sure I wanted that. I recognize that was an odd admission for a person who claimed to be a good Christian. But there it was. I didn’t think I really wanted to love God more. The reasons for that are complex and will be touched on later, but the bottom line was: I really didn’t want to love God.

The Heart of the Evangelical Crisis, By MARK GALLI, Christianity Today, MAY 15, 2019

So, we really want to know if you Christians in America will follow that greatest commandment and because of love for your God, explore the possibility that you missed something big – that if Christianity is the story we are in, then your God really is the Great Storyteller.

Seriously.

We really want to know if you will explore it.

Because if you just keep pushing it away, we think we can persuade the Central Military Commission of China that we can continue to win against you without fighting.