To say we should aim to “please God” can easily sound anti-gospel.
I believe we should hope to please God, if for no other reason, because God hopes for us to please Him. Pleasing God is the same thing we would hope that our own children would want to do for us. Whether or not my children “please” me through obedience does not dictate my love them for them. If I’m displeased with my children’s disobedience, that does not mean that I cease to love them. My unconditional affection for them is not based on their behavior. At the same time, my greatest hope for them is to please me because I believe that their obedience will lead to joy, success, and long life.
As their Father, therefore, I can desire, expect, and ask them to please me through obedience. Without question, my hope is that their obedience is their joyful response to the confidence they have in my affection for them. So much so that, even when they don’t “feel” like obeying, they do so out of love for their father whom they trust knows and wants their best. I am affectionately jealous for their affection.
How much more is our All-sacrificing, perfectly loving Heavenly Father worthy of our affection? How much more is our all-knowing, all wise, Heavenly Father worthy of our trust? Pleasing God is less of a call to obey rules, as it is a request to enjoy relationship. Our pleasing through obedience does nothing to prove our purity before God but everything to demonstrate security in our relationship with Him.