Thursday, June 28, 2007

Is God Loving In Pursuing His Glory?

A Loving Command
by Millie Chan, 2006

"God commands us to worship Him, mama. Isn't that being self-centered?" my daughter asked me.

I used to wrestle with that question too. After all, we are told that "love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; ...does not seek its ownâ" (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Do the rules on humility apply to God?

It all starts with His sovereignty. A sovereign God who is all-powerful and righteous can do nothing less but declare this truth to His creations. If God denies the infinite worth of His glory, by implication He would be abdicating His seat to take second place. He would cease to be God.

It is therefore fitting and essential that God proclaim His glory and worth. In so doing, He affirms an absolute truth.

But why the call to worship Him? One cannot escape the many commands scattered throughout the Psalms to praise God. As C. S. Lewis observes, these demands seemed to portray God as craving "for our worship like a vain woman who wants compliments." Does the command spring from a need on His part to shore up a deficiency?

Again we must reflect on His nature in order to relate to His command. Our God is a joyful God. "Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases." (Psalm 115:3). None of His purposes can be thwarted. He is thus the most joyful of all beings. And there is an expansive quality to this joy which inclines it to overflow. At the very heart of creation is the impulse to share this joy.

What then would be the best gift He could give us to enjoy? In stark knowledge of His own majesty, wonder and beauty, He knows our fullest satisfaction is discovered in Him. When we encounter His goodness and incomparable excellence, we gasp in wonder and we worship. Of all creatures, only humans are capable of wonder. Monte Swan so aptly says that "when we halt in wonder, we instinctively hold our breath - which then catches in our throat. This pause, for a Christian, is in actuality a form of worship."

God is the best source of inexpressible and wondrous joy and He offers Himself to saturate us with this delight. Anything else would see Him giving us less. Our God wants us to delight in Him. In fact the faith that pleases God is a confidence that God will reward us when we come to Him (Hebrews 11:6) - the heartfelt conviction not only that Christ is reliable, but also that He is desirable.

Thus the persistent calls to worship Him. The act of worship is the pathway for the inflow of His abundant joy and love. In worship, eternity transcends time and the richness of God's glory reaches us where we are. The closer we are to God's absolute supremacy, beauty and purity, the more we marvel, and the more we want to worship.
Worship is basically adoration, and we adore only what delights us.

Blaise Pascal wrote this confession after he had an encounter with God
while reading the 17th chapter of the Gospel of John:

From about half past ten at night to about half an hour after midnight,
"God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob", not of philosophers and scholars
Certitude, heartfelt joy, peace.
God of Jesus Christ, God of Jesus Christ.
The world forgotten, everything except God.

"O righteous Father, the world has not known You, but I have known You" (John 17:25).
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.

No, the rules of humility that apply to a creature cannot apply in the same way to its Creator. For God, the act of seeking His own praise is the ultimate loving act. Precisely because He loves us so, He relentlessly commands us to pursue the praises of His name in our hearts. Think of what we would be missing if God did not insist that we worship Him. We would never know the source of ultimate satisfaction.

"Delight yourself in the Lord" (Psalm 37:4). What a loving command!

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