I’m a little afraid this phrase is becoming trite. I mean, I grew up in the church, and while I didn’t memorize the entire Westminster Shorter Catechism, I did at one point (I don’t even remember where or when) memorize the first question.
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: The chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
So, why is it so difficult for me to fully appreciate this truth–to not only think it’s true but let that truth influence every aspect of my life? I know in my head that it’s true. I believe it. So, why do I try to steal the attention?
I ask myself these questions all the time. (Prepare for the big shocker here.) It turns out, I’m a very self-centered person. That’s why I was so struck by some reading I did this morning.
The book was Pierced by the Word by John Piper. I’ve read a few other books by John Piper, and I’m always struck at his way with words. He has a unique gift for explaining God’s Word and the proper perspective of our relationship with God. The first chapter in this book was no exception. To get the best impact, you should read it yourself, but I’ll do my best to summarize.
He used the story of Jesus Christ raising Lazarus from the dead to exemplify how God shows His love by glorifying Himself. Think about that for a second. I don’t know about you, but for my self-centered heart, that’s a very strange concept. Looking at the passage in John 11:1-46 drove the point home, though. In verse six, we see that Jesus took his time getting to Bethany. Jesus was in Jerusalem–a mere two miles from Bethany, but “when He heard that he [Lazarus] was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.” He didn’t want us to miss this point, either, as we see in verses 14 and 15. The disciples misunderstood, and thought Lazarus was just sleeping.
“So Jesus then said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.'”
Jesus confirms again that this story is not about human interest (as we understand it) when he thanks His Father in verses 40-42 for showing His glory.
“Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”
I’m very familiar with the story. This take on the passage, though, made me think of it in a whole new light. I knew God is/was a loving God, and I knew He will glorify Himself and will use me and all of His creation for the purpose of His glory. Those two ideas have never really merged for me, though–until now. God shows His love to us through His God-centeredness. And God-centeredness is the only way that we can show our love to God or others effectively.
Anyway, those lessons have been on my mind all day. As usual, it was the humbling reminder I needed. I was observed/evaluated by my principal this afternoon. It was my first evaluation at this school. (A few of you knew and were praying–thank you. It went well.) I was very nervous–more because this has been put off for so long than anything else. So, in my quiet time this morning, what lesson did God lead me to learn? Did He point me to His comfort? No, my loving Father in heaven pointed me the lesson I needed most: It’s not about me!