Monday, September 5, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011


"Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy." - C.S. Lewis

"Everybody has something, that if they lose it, they won't even want to live life anymore. That is what you're worshiping." - Tim Keller

"You will most certainly praise that which you most prize." - Darrin Patrick

What are you worshiping in your life? This isn't a new subject for me to write about but one that keeps coming back time and time again as I confront idols in my life that have built up over time. It's become increasingly clear that my biggest idol has been, and probably remains, me. My abilities, my potential, my dreams...they seem to be the biggest obstacle to placing all my hope and faith in God. In one way or another, and usually on a subconscious level, I continue to try to be my own savior. My most severe bouts of depression have occurred when I have failed to come through like I thought I would. Tim Keller is those cases it greatly impaired my willingness to go on.

I remember writing an email a few months back to a friend who asked how I was doing. I used the phrase, "I have come to the end of myself". I had never used that language before but it just came out in that moment. It was profound and right and I give the Holy Spirit credit for those words of wisdom.

The truth is that we were made to worship. It's why we are here. We had this discussion recently in my men's care group. It is still an uncomfortable concept for a lot of Christians...that we aren't the center of the story. An excerpt from a recent Matt Chandler sermon lays it out with no apologies:

God created us for His glory (Isaiah 43:6-7). I want you to think about this. The reason you exist, the reason you are is for the glory of God, the name and renown of God. The praising of His infinite perfections, that’s why you exist. You’re not here for fellowship. God was not lonely and decided to make you because He was just tired of being alone after an eternity of being alone. God was perfectly content within the Godhead. God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit did not need to create you. He did create you for the praise of His glorious grace. That’s why you exist. It’s the reason you’re alive.

How does that sit with you? Is there a part of you that wants to argue against it, say that it is taking it too far? I've been there. I am still there sometimes. This world tells us just the opposite. It's about our glory. After all, it is OUR life, right? (Wrong.) Our sin, pride and selfishness often lead us to worship everything and anything but the One who made us. We love to worship the creation rather than the Creator. And our favorite part of creation is usually ourselves.

Again, it seems to just come back to the belief we have that God isn't out for our best...especially if our existence is meant to glorify Him. "What about us?", we say. So, we must go back to the cross and know that what happened there proves God's love for us and that He does have a purpose for us that is good and right and infinitely satisfying.

Going back to Chandler:

Now let me tell you why this is the best news in the universe. If God is after the praise of His glorious grace, then He is not after my begrudging submission, but rather He is after my joy. So all the commands in Scripture are about God lining you up with how He designed things to be for your greater joy. What God has enabled me to do in saving me is to spend my days making much of Him, and He never gets old, He never lets me down and He never ever runs out of areas for me to gaze upon, to wonder at and to make much of.

That rolls into this next piece. If God is for God, if our joy is inseparably linked to God being for God and if God’s salvation of us is not ultimately about us but rather setting us free to make much of Him, then heaven is an ever-increasing experience of these glories. If we had time to get into Ephesians 2, it says that in the coming ages God will show to us the riches of His grace in Christ Jesus. A billion years from now, those of you who are believers will just be scratching the surface about how infinite the joy of God is.

Here’s what has to happen. You have got to get over you. You’re not the point, and the more you think you are the point, the more you will be enslaved to a thousand vices. But when it’s not about you, you’re free. When it’s not about you, you get to extend grace. When it’s not about you, you get to rest. When it’s not about you, you get to breathe.

The truth is that we were made to worship...we were made to worship the God of the Bible, our Creator, our Savior, our Sustainer, our Hope and our Joy. That act is not meant to be one of begrudging submission bur rather of complete and perfect satisfaction. When I find myself having to force worship, or simply not desiring to worship at all, I know that I have forgotten who God is and who I am and what my heart and soul desperately need. I have lost my place in the only story that makes sense.

We must understand that God's pursuit of God and our pursuit of joy are not at odds with each other.

"The most dangerous form of idolatry does not come from things that are bad, but that are good." - Jeff Bode

In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forever (Psalms 16:11). "You can't improve Full and Forever." - John Piper

"When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him." - C.S. Lewis