Is God selfish for wanting all the glory?

There I was, sitting in a circle of girlfriends in a coffee shop, not expecting any heresy, when the question was suddeningly, startinglingly, shockinglylylylyling asked:

“Do you ever feel like God maybe gets tired of people worshiping Him all the time?  Is He ever like, [said modestly] ‘Stop it.’?”

I immediately put on my pharisee cloak, ready to watch as others around the table threw stones at her.  Nobody actually attacked her, but her idea was shot down almost as fast as an enemy plane in war time.

I think she was a little embarrassed, and dismissed it fast, but as soon as I saw the moment for me to be hypocritical was over, I began to mull over her question (secretly).

Is God selfish for wanting all the glory?

Did God create people so that He could have more worship objects?  Is that what we are? Are we like mindless lemmings, expected to follow after Him, or gadgets in an electronic store that make God’s life more fun?  What’s the deal with glory?

And there’s this top-secret, little tiny wondering in my head that asks, “What about me?”

Am I just a number to God, just one more person to worship Him?  Was I made just to fulfill His need for praise?  Where is the hope that my life will be exciting or fun or glorious?

I think a lot of people secretly think that they must have all there fun right now: do what they want, feed their pleasures, entertain themselves, because–look out!–Heaven is coming when they will be forced to worship Him 24/7.

The idea of God’s glory is such a tangled up notion in the sinner’s mind (like me) that it’s no wonder we can’t get it right.  It’s no wonder that we begrudge God His glory sometimes, or fold our arms at the thought of Him getting all the credit.  Something seems wrong, something seems tricky about this deal to us.  God claims to love us, right?  But is that just a big trick to get us to serve Him hand and foot while He sits on His throne in His glory?

I am convinced that Satan will tell any lie, no matter how ridiculously outrageous, absolutely evil, or horrifically deceptive, if it can draw us away from a right relationship with Jesus.

This is such an example.

Before I make any judgments about God’s glory, I need to look at God’s love.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant (1 Corinthians 13:4, NASB)

Is God above this standard of love?  Well, that’s like asking if the Eiffel Tower is above the Eiffel Tower.  God is love.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16, NIV)

To know God is to know love–real love!  All the qualities God reveals about love in 1 Corinthians 13 reveal qualities of Himself!  And God doesn’t just expect us to take His Word for it (although He could!).  He actually came to us to prove to us what He is like.

This is the God who prays for forgiveness for men driving nails in His hands and pulling out His beard.

This is the God who washes the feet of men He knows will utterly abandon Him in His time of need.

This is the God who heals people everyone else thinks are too far gone, too ugly in sin, too disgusting in nature.

God’s glory is not disconnected from His love.

At the center of His glory is His love.

The reason many people try to “withhold” giving glory to God is that they suspect they will be giving up their deepest longings by doing so.

That is the reality.  We do give up everything we once thought we needed, wanted, craved, coveted–whatever.  We give it all up for an I.V., if you will, into the vein of God.

To glorify God is to open yourself up to receive His love into your life.

And what brings God the greatest glory?

And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. (1 John 3:23, KJ21)

It is not that God takes away love or joy when we glorify Him.  It is that the only way to love and joy is to glorify Him!  And “glorify” isn’t only singing or bowing down before Him.  That’s like saying Christmas is laughing and giving gifts.  That is not Christmas, that is a few outcomes of Christmas.  Christmas is the birth of Christ.

Glorifying God is believing in Jesus and loving the people He came to save (a.k.a., everyone).

And it isn’t that God “withholds” love and joy to get us to glorify Him.  It is that there is no way to love and joy away from Him!  People who do not know God will suffer a loveless and joyless life not because God is snatching love and joy away from them but because they are fugitives from God, hiding out from the love and joy only He has to give!

Glorifying God is loving Him.  Not bringing grudging gifts to throw at Him, as if He is a wooden idol.  And not singing to Him in coercion, as if He would need our songs.  Glorifying our Creator is like a broken, unwound watch coming to the Watchmaker–we find this is where we are supposed to be.  No one made us besides God, no one knows us like God, and no one loves us like God!  Glorifying Him is just the “wow” that comes from that realization!

So God isn’t selfish for wanting all the glory.  He knows that it is only when we glorify Him that we know we are loved by Him.  And that is the ultimate joy any human can ever have.

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! (1 Corinthians 16:10, ESV)

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on March 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

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