The Glory of God: Our Supreme Passion
[This article is written by a missionary for other missionaries working in the "Last Frontier." For security reasons, the author must remain anonymous.]
This is the first and most important of the basic principles of our work. Real Christianity is God--centered. Real Christianity recognizes, as Jesus Himself said, that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind. Those who have glimpsed the greatness, the grandeur, the majesty and the excellence of our God through the eyes of trust in Jesus never get over that vision. An obsession with the glory of God is the hallmark of true knowledge of God.
What is the glory of God? The original meaning of glory has to do with weightiness. The glory of God summarizes the seriousness, the perfection, and the infinite significance of all of the attributes of God. It sums up who He is, in the awesome brightness and weightiness of all His perfections. What does it mean then for us to glorify God? We cannot add to His glory, for He is already perfectly and infinitely glorious. Rather, for us to glorify God means for us to ascribe the glory that is due His Name in worship. It means that we acknowledge His glory by living as though His perfections are as serious and significant as they really are, so that we reflect His glory through a pure mirror. It means that nothing horrifies us more than the thought of bringing dishonor to His glorious Name, and nothing delights us more than to feel His pleasure as we live to the praise of His glory. It also means that we declare His glory among the nations, inviting others to join us in our love affair with His glorious perfection. Glorifying God thus consumes and defines every aspect of our life and witness as well as our worship.
We urgently need to recapture the centrality of glorifying God in our lives and work. Too much of what passes for evangelical Christianity in America is man-centered or even self-centered. God is reduced to a means to some other end, whether it be my own self-fulfillment or the welfare of others. The results are disastrous for worship, for discipleship, and for witness. Worship either becomes tepid, or it becomes an experience we offer to people as a sort of consumer product rather than adoration and consecration we offer to God. Discipleship becomes a self-help program that leaves huge areas of life untouched, rather than a life-long love affair with God that lays every area of life on the altar to be consecrated to Him and to be conformed to His image. Witness becomes an invitation to sample a product rather than a royal summons to flee to a sovereign Savior. In effect, we reduce the Good News to mere good advice.
If the glory of God is our supreme passion, this will redefine both the goal of our task and the manner in which we pursue that task. The goal of our task is that the earth be filled with the knowledge of His glory as the waters cover the sea. Our passion is to see Him receive the glory that is due His Name from every tribe, tongue, people and nation. Everything else is simply a means to that end. We are not seeking to add numbers that we can report to the organization; we are seeking to add worshippers to the choir of heaven, who will live every area of their lives to the praise of His glory. This focus invests a new, holy seriousness to discipleship and the life of the church. We are not content unless His glory is proclaimed, reflected, upheld and adored among the people to whom He has called us. The task is not about us, and it's not even ultimately about the nations. The focus is on Him.
A passion for the glory of God will also redefine the manner in which we pursue our task. If our supreme goal is to glorify Him, we will not be able to separate our personal lives from our work lives. The way we treat our families, the way we entertain ourselves, the way we spend our money, the way we relate to others, the way we treat our bodies, the hidden attitudes of our hearts, the time we spend nourishing our own relationship with Him, cannot be compartmentalized away from our "work." It is our job to glorify Him in every area of life, not just through the tasks written on our job descriptions. Failure in the former will mean failure in the latter as well. We also cannot accept any means to the end that does not equally bring glory to God. This passion thus has a purifying effect, safeguarding us from the temptation to take shortcuts or utilize worldly means in the pursuit of our work.
As I read over the words I have just written, I get overwhelmed with the conviction that I fall very far short of my own counsel. That brings me to my final point. We can only live for His glory by His grace. Apart from His enabling, I can do nothing. And even what I do by His strength is still tainted by my sinfulness, so that it must be covered by the blood of His sacrifice to be acceptable to my holy Father. Bless His Name that both His power and His grace are infinitely sufficient to meet all my need! Brothers and sisters, I plead with you to seek His grace to make the glory of God your supreme passion. It is His supreme passion, and the pursuit of anything else would constitute failure to fulfill our calling.