Is Living for the Praise of God’s Glory Really a Big Drag? by Mark D. Roberts

Posted: October 12, 2012 in The High Calling
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In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth…

Years ago, when I was serving as the College Director of Hollywood Presbyterian Church, I got into a fascinating conversation with several of my students. They were sharing with me that living for God seemed to be, in reality, very boring. And boredom was just about the worst things these collegians could imagine. I tried to make the case that living for God and by his power was actually exciting, but I was getting nowhere fast. Finally, one young woman said with exasperation, “Look, it seems to me like Satan gets to have all the fun. Living God’s way sounds like a big drag!” I was shocked by her honesty, and impressed, too. Rarely are we Christians so open about our true doubts and misgivings when it comes to the Lord.

So, is existing for the praise of God’s glory really a big drag? Does it limit our joy in living?

In answering these questions, we could point to the examples of countless Christians whose lives bear witness to the adventure of glorifying God. We could also point to the witness of mature believers who sought, over three centuries ago, to encapsulate the core truths of Christianity. When they packaged these truths in a teaching tool called a “catechism,” they began with one of the most important questions of all: “What is the chief end of man?” Today, we might ask, “What is our chief purpose in living?” The Christians in the gathering in Westminster Abbey answered: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

Don’t you think it’s fascinating that these godly folk added the second phrase? They could well have said only that our chief purpose in life is to glorify God. But they believed it was important to add “and to enjoy him forever.” Of course they didn’t make up this idea. You can find it all over Scripture. The Psalms continually call us to be joyful in the Lord. The Apostle Paul echoes this theme when he writes to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (4:4). Peter adds that we who know the Lord “are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Pet. 1:8).

To be sure, there are plenty of Christians who completely miss out on the joy of their relationship with God. Their way of living out their faith confirms the fears of my former college students, making the Christian life seem like a big drag. But Scripture and the Christians of the Westminster Shorter Catechism promise something altogether different. Yes, we exist for the praise of God’s glory, and in glorifying him, we also enjoy him—and life—forever.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever enjoyed God in your life? When? Why? What helps you to experience joy in living for God’s glory? What keeps you from this joy?

PRAYER:

To God be the glory, great things He hath done, So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, Who yielded His life our redemption to win, an atonement for sin. And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Refrain:

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the earth hear His voice; Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the people rejoice; Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, And give Him the glory; great things He hath done.

Oh, perfect redemption, the purchase of blood, To every believer the promise of God; The vilest offender who truly believes, That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done, And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son; But purer, and higher, and greater will be Our wonder, our transport when Jesus we see. Amen.

“To God Be the Glory” by Fanny Crosby, 1875. Public domain.

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