What drives you? What are your motives? What is that thing, which, at the end of the day makes you push a little farther, work a little harder and drive a little longer?
Why are you doing anything that you do?
At the end of the day, for most of us, I think our motive is: self. I work hard so I can play hard. I work hard, so some day I can retire and do what I want to do. Yes, I’m working. But, the reason I’m working is for something else. I want this kind of a house, with this kind of a car, with this kind of a family, with this kind of a life.
Motive = me.
I’m that way. I often have selfish motives. So, I’m not judging you, I’m just speaking from what I know of me. Maybe you’re not selfish like I am. If so, good for you. You’re awesome. I’m pretty sure they make a T-shirt for that now.
This is probably no surprise. I mean, it’s not like any of us have to try to be selfish. We just are. I don’t have to try to make the world revolve around me, I just naturally do it. It’s not because I have some kind of psychological delusion. It’s because I’m human. Just like you.
So, what’s the problem? You might ask me. Well, as I said, self, when left un-checked, has a tendency to make everything about itself. Everything. We have a tendency to make work about us, to make family about us, to make relationships about us, to make money about us, to make church and God all about us.
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We quote. And we get a hearty, “Amen!” from the batpicostals in the room. It is about me. Jesus died for me. That whole redemption story, is about God loving me.
Then, everything has to be approached from that vantage point. And if something dares question that, well, there’s going to be
hell heck to pay. When that crazy pastor dares suggest that God is all about His own glory, and that my salvation is for His glory and that my life is supposed to be for the praise of His glory, well. Be careful pastor. You’re treading on thin ice.
We can even endure such talk to a point. As long as it stays abstract and philosophical and intellectual, it’s fine. Okay, fine, God is all about God. He saved me for Him. I can intellectually affirm these statements. But, as soon as we take the next step from knowledge to heart and life change.
BOOM! Don’t you tell me how to worship God. That’s personal to me. I’ll worship him how I see fit. You can’t judge my heart, doesn’t the Bible also say not to judge? Who’s the hypocrite now?
We are okay with God, as long as God doesn’t expect us to give Him total ownership of our lives. We’re okay with God as long as he remains external to our situation, a figure we can ask for free stuff and blame for the bad stuff. But, when God expects me to live my life as a sacrifice for His purposes, well, it’s time to find another church.
And many do, and many have.
This reminds me of Jeremiah. At the beginning of his ministry, as he is learning what it means to be a prophet, he has some soft words to share with God’s people.
“I will pronounce my judgements on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshipping what their hands have made.” Jeremiah 1:16
“What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.” Jeremiah 2:5
Jack Hayford said: “Worship changes the worshipper into the image of the one being worshipped.”
When we have self at the center of everything, we are really worshipping ourselves. Me, with a capital M. And when we do that, there’s really no point to anything. Worship is about ascribing worth and honor to something. It’s about submission and surrender. What good is it to ascribe worth to ourselves based on ourselves. What good is it to submit to and surrender to ourselves. We are already pretty good at doing that.
That’s not how God designed things. He designed us, created us to worship him. When we worship things other than him, we become worthless. Ouch. Glad I wasn’t the one that had to tell people that. I can just pass the buck back on to Jeremiah.
But what does this mean? Let’s get a little more substance to work from:
“But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men…those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.” – Psalm 115:4,8
“At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal. They exchanged their glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass.” Psalm 106:19-20
So, when you worship something other than God, you are ‘exchanging your glory’ for the thing you are worshipping?
We still need a little more help:
1 Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
5 You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
9 Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Wait a second! It’s right there, Pastor. We are the ones that are crowned with glory and honor. To which I would, say. “You’re right…kind of.” Yes, we are crowned with glory and honor, but who crowns us?
“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.”
Do you see it? The only way we have glory is because God gives it to us. The only reason God can give it to us, is because He already has it. He is the one true God. His glory is in the heavens, far above and beyond anything we can experience in its entirety. But, he has given us glory and put everything under our feet?
Why? We have to go back to see where the psalmist got this idea of putting everything under our feet:
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God made us in His image. That is, was and will always be the only reason we have any glory at all. We have glory because God gave it to us. We are the only thing in all of creation that has his image. We are the only created being that reflects God.
If we have glory because God gave it to us, is it any wonder he would be a little put off when we decide that we are the most important thing in the universe, that we would make this whole thing about us, and we would make our relationship with him all about what God can do for/give to us while at the same time refusing to give anything of ourselves back to him?
We’ve taken the glory that He has given to us, and exalted ourselves to His position – WITH HIS OWN GLORY!
The reality is, none of any of all of creation has any worth or value if it wasn’t given by God.
“Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the creator as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.” – Charles Spurgeon
When we realize that, we begin to understand why things have gotten to be such a mess in the world. We’ve prostituted God’s glory for our own purposes and agendas. We’ve used God’s glory to advance our selfish pursuits and desires. We’ve made it all about us, and we get mad at God or anyone who would dare suggest it should be any other way.
May I ask you a question: Do you really want it to be this way? Haven’t you ever seen Bruce Almighty? Do you really want to be God? Of course, even asking such questions is ridiculous because none of us can be God.
“Isn’t it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate?” – Francis Chan
Wouldn’t you rather worship the God who created you, the God whose name is “I AM.” The one who is the beginning, the middle and the end. The creator of all things and sustainer of all things. The author of life, the one who numbers the hairs on our head, whose thoughts for us are more numerous than the sands on the seashore. The one who knows each and every one of us by name, formed us in our mother’s womb, created us for a purpose and created good works for us to do. Wouldn’t you rather worship the one whose name is provider and healer? Wouldn’t you rather worship a God who is too big to comprehend, who is immortal, all knowing and all powerful?
Obviously, none of us are any of that. And, (also obviously) none of us will ever be any of that.
What is worship? Paul makes it clear:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Worship is living sacrifice. Why does that ring a bell?
“24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” Matthew 16:24-27
May I ask, what are you living your life for? Who are you living your life for? Have you spent your life in pursuit of your own dreams? Are you chasing the pleasures of this life and this world?
For those who are Christ-followers the call is clear. Worship isn’t about my own wants, desires or preferences. Worship is actually denying them. My true and proper worship is not touting and lauding me, it is sacrificing me. Worship is conformity with God’s will, which requires nonconformity with the world. Can you and I say this is our motive right now? If not, it’s time for me and all of us to repent and turn away from that desire to seek our own glory.
If you happen to be reading this and you’re not a Christ follower, may I make an invitation to you? Step into this idea and see for yourself if God really is who He says He is. Try it out. If I’m wrong, what have you lost? But, if I’m right, it could change everything, literally, forever.