"God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him in the midst of loss, not prosperity." --John Piper

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Glorious God

Ephesians 1:6

to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

What is to His glory? Salvation. Verses 4 and 5 tell us this, that He chose us to be holy and blameless before Him, and that He predestined us for adoption through Christ. But what strikes me is that this was all done to the praise of His glory. He saved us so that He might have glory. This is so contrary to what we often hear preached, and even to what we by nature want to believe.

C.S. Lewis likened God to an old woman begging for praise prior to his conversion. Obviously, Paul does not see it this way, nor is he think it wrong that God should seek His own glory.

But let me ask this question, if God does not seek his own glory, whose glory should he seek? Ours? Tell me what glory I should receive because God saves me? If someone risks his life to save another, the one who saves or the one who is saved? Of course it is the one who does the saving.

But what about humility? That is a non-issue. When God saves us, He deserves the glory, He is not seeking it. He saves us because of His great love for us. If a mother risks her life to save her children, she does not do it to gain glory, even though she likely will. She does it out of love for her children. Should we expect any less from God?

And it is through His glorious grace that we are blessed in Christ, His Beloved. The word grace is "charis," and can also be translated "joy." That it is to His great joy that He has saved us. This makes me think of what the writer of Hebrews states about Christ's vision of the cross, "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

I think this is a difficult concept for some, that of joy. Often we equate joy with happiness. The cross was not a happy day. But joy is different. It is not a temporary feeling. It is a mindset. It was the joy set before Him that Jesus focused on. Most women long to have children, but I can't think of many who would go through labor just to experience pain. No, they do it for the joy that comes after the labor. (An interesting footnote, when the writer of Hebrews writes of "the joy set before him," he uses the word "chara" which is a feminine noun for "the joy received from you.")

Paul is painting a picture of a very loving Father. A Father who is worthy of our praise. A Father who takes joy in providing for His children. A Father we cannot help but worship, if we understand Him in the light of truth.

God wants us to be joyful. Some would have us to think that this means He wants us to be happy all the time. But I see it as more of a mindset. The mindset of Christ. The mindset Paul had. Not a super-natural mind, but a mind that sees the goodness and grace of God. A mind that is more than just gracious (nice), but a mind that is grace-filled, a mind that is flat out blown away but the goodness of God. A mind that focuses on what can we do in this circumstance, rather than one that sees what is happening to us in this circumstance.

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