Sunday, March 22, 2015

Is our goal God's glory?

germinating seed
"Unless a grain of wheat ... dies, it remains alone"
TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 12:20-36a

" 'Father, glorify Your name.' Then a voice came from heaven, saying, 'I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.' " John 12:28

I see three upside-down realities of the kingdom of God in today's reading:

1. To preserve life, we give ours away—like a seed dies to produce the next crop of seedlings (John 12:24-25).

2. To get honor that really counts—God's honor—we don't king it over people but serve (John 12:26).

3. To attract the world Jesus had to be "lifted up" in crucifixion (John 12:32-33).

How easy it is for us to lose sight of these counter-intuitive aspects of God's kingdom as we respond and react to life's daily challenges. We are careful to preserve our lives for ourselves instead of flinging them on Jesus. We like to be served instead of serve. We find Jesus' death almost an embarrassment instead of an attraction  because of the way it draws attention to the sinful and helpless condition of each person on earth. In our humanistic self-sufficient culture, such a thing is politically incorrect.

Perhaps we're also so often unmotivated to pursue this kingdom point-of-view in our lives because we aren't fully invested in its eventual goal—that God get the glory. We secretly want glory for ourselves.

Theologian J.I. Packer confronts this tension of viewpoints in his book Knowing God:

"The Christians instincts of trust and worship are stimulated very powerfully by knowledge of the greatness of God. But this is knowledge which Christians today largely lack and that is one reason why our faith is so feeble and our worship so flabby. We are modern men, and modern me, though they cherish great thoughts of man, have, as a rule, small thoughts of God. ...

"Today vast stress is laid on the thought that God is personal, but this truth is so stated as to leave the impression that God is a person of the same sort as we are—weak, inadequate, ineffective, a little pathetic ...

"Like us He is personal, but unlike us He is great. In all its constant stress on the reality of God's personal concern for His people, and on the gentleness, tenderness, sympathy, patience, and yearning compassion that He shows towards them, the Bible never lets us lose sight of His majesty, and His unlimited dominion over all His creatures" - J.I. Packer, Knowing God pp. 87,88 (italic emphasis in the original, bold emphasis added).

When we feast our minds on the greatness of God, we begin to understand why He (not us) deserves glory. Then investing our lives for the furthering of His glory begins to make sense. And the price we may be asked to pay of losing our lives, of serving, and of spreading the good news of rescue becomes every bit worth it.

Dear God, help me to know You better and be fully committed to furthering the glory of Your being, name, and reputation. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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