Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Glorify

It is in the heart of a Christian to glorify God. How do we do that? What Paul indicates is that glorifying God is more of a why than a what. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 he writes that whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we should do it for the glory of God. The what can vary. The why (who we're doing it "for") remains the same. Glorifying God is not so much our actions as our motivations.

In the background of the first letter to Corinthians is an issue around eating and drinking. Meat that was offered to idols would show up in the local market. There was a disagreement among believers whether or not such meat should be purchased. Eventually Paul weighed in and said, "Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God."
Some people have some very particular ideas about what you should be doing or not doing to please God. Glorifying God is a heart matter. No matter what situation, there are five ways we can glorify God:

Trust

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. (Jeremiah 17:7) In any situation we can bring God glory by trusting him. In our current political and economic conditions, we have a great opportunity to express our trust in God. As the Psalmist said (20:7): Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Obey

Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. (Deuteronomy 11:1) We glorify God by obeying him. At the marriage in Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle, Mary's instruction to the servants was worth the price of admission: "Whatever he tells you to do, do it." We can go a long way toward glorifying God by simply saying to him, "Whatever you ask me to do, the answer is 'Yes.'"

Imitate

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:21) Someone was recently describing a conflict they were having with someone, and said to me, "I am not going to back down from telling this person the truth!" I reminded them that it was said of Jesus that he was full of both grace and truth. As a Christ-follower you could just as easily say, "I am not going to back down from showing this person grace!" It is hard to do both. But in any and every situation we can glorify God by imitating him.

Acknowledge

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6) When I officiate basketball games I have a little ritual I go through during the pledge of allegiance. I look up at the ceiling and God and me have a little conversation. I say, "God, help me in this game to represent you well. In all of my interactions with coaches, players and fans, may you give me grace." Some might look at a basketball game as a secular activity, but I make it spiritual by invoking Christ's presence.

Praise

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. (Psalm 103:2) No matter “what,” you can praise him. There is a lot of goodness in the world, and we have a chance to glorify God for it. This, as the Westminster Catechism says, is the chief end of man.

Along that line, I want to share something that I read, but I’m not sure where (I hate it when I can't give credit where credit is due). But it speaks to the immense role that we play in the grander story:

We live in a far more dramatic, more dangerous story than we imagined. The reason we love The Chronicles of Narnia or Star Wars or The Matrix or The Lord of the Rings is that they are telling us something about our lives that we never, ever get on the evening news…Without this (truth) burning in our hearts, we lose the meaning of our days. It all withers down to fast food and bills and voice mail and who really cares anyway? Do you see what has happened? The essence of our faith has been stripped away. The very thing that was to give our lives meaning – this way of seeing – has been lost. Or stolen from us. Notice that those who have tried to wake us up to this reality were usually killed for it: the prophets, Jesus, Stephen, Paul, most of the disciples, in fact….

Every mythic story shouts to us that in this desperate hour we have a crucial role to play….For most of life, Neo [from the Matrix] sees himself only as Thomas Anderson, a computer programmer for a large software corporation. As the drama really begins to heat up and the enemy hunts him down, he says to himself, “This is insane. Why is this happening to me? What did I do? I’m nobody. I didn’t do anything.” A very dangerous conviction…though one shared by most…What he later comes to realize – and not a moment too soon – is that he is “the One” who will break the power of the Matrix.

Frodo, the little Halfling from the Shire, young and na├»ve is so many ways, “the most unlikely person imaginable,” is the Ring Bearer. He, too, must learn through dangerous paths and fierce battle that a task has been appointed to him, and if he does not find a way, no one will. Dorothy is just a farm girl from Kansa, who stumbled into Oz not because she was looking for adventure but because someone had hurt her feelings and she decided to run away from home. Yet she’s the one to bring down the Wicked Witch of the West. Joan of Arc was also a farm girl, illiterate, the youngest in her family, when she received her first vision from God. Just about everyone doubted her; the commander of the French army said she should be taken home and given a good whipping. Yet she ends up leading the armies to war.

You see this throughout Scripture: a little boy will slay the giant, a loudmouthed fisherman who can’t hold down a job will lead the church….things are not as they seem. We are not what we seem.

Of all the eternal truths we don’t believe, this is the one we doubt most of all. Our days are not extraordinary. They are filled with the mundane, with hassles mostly. And we? We are….a dime a dozen. Nothing special really. Probably a disappointment to God. But as C.S. Lewis wrote, “The value of myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by ‘the veil of familiarity.’” You are not what you think you are. There is a glory to your life that your Enemy fears, and he is hell-bent on destroying that glory before you act on it.

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