Thursday, August 31, 2017

Pleasing God vs loved by him

Being loved by God is a fixed reality for those who are in Christ. Why? Because his love for us is based on [1]Christ's perfect performance on our behalf and not ours. To say it another way, we don't have to be perfect anymore in order to be fully loved  because legally we are perfect in Christ i.e. the perfect life of Christ is credited to us and the full consequence of our rebellious unbelief was poured out on Christ. 

As a result there is nothing we can or should do to make ourselves more or less acceptable and loved by God than we already are right now in Christ. We are the beloved child of God. Nothing we do can make us any more (or less) so i.e. can cause God to love us more fully than he already does.

However pleasing God, bringing joy to his heart is based on our faithful pursuit of him; our diligent obedience to him i.eour action/conduct, our "performance" if you will. This conduct has to do with our [2]relationship with God, the other is a matter of our status or legal standing before God.

The former (being loved by God) answers the following: 

"Am I an infinitely and beloved child of God" to which scripture gives a resounding YES!!

"Is there anything [2]I must do to insure I am (and continue to be) an infinitely beloved child of God." The answer is an equally resounding NO!!

Nothing I do will cause, insure or prevent God's love for me. That was why Christ came. He took care of all of this for me. Our judgment is satisfied by Christ; our condemnation is gone because of Christ. Our standing as a beloved child of God is secured in Christ. God's love for us is absolute and infinite because of Christ. 

As Christ declared at the end of addressing all these things in and by his crucifixion, he said in a loud voice "It is finished!and then he gave up his spirit. This means, there is nothing left to be done by you, me or even Christ himself that can add to or take away from God's infinite love for us. 

Pleasing God

The later (pleasing God) addresses a very different question. Which is, "am I a child that honors my infinitely loving Father to the utmost by my words and actions" Notice this question addresses our side of things, not God's side. His side is already taken care of because of Christ's efforts on our behalf. 

Do I please him? It depends on whether I am living for him and loving him with all my heart soul, mind and strength. This is a matter of my relationship with God evidenced by my trust in him and my ensuing faithfulness to him. Do I fully trust the fixed and settled love he already has for me and act accordingly i.e. in response through my faithful and loving pursuit of him? 

When we truly "get" the fullness of his love, it changes us. Again, this deals with my side of things; my "getting" God's love, my disposition towards God, not his towards me. 

An Illustration

Just like any parent is most pleased when their kids heed their loving directions, so it is with God. And just as a loving parent will never love their child any more than they already do, so it is with God i.e. once we are a child (born into the family) we will always be their child i.e. loved and cherished by our parents. 

However truly loving parents also find great delight in their child when they faithfully pursue the parents wishes. In fact the more they love us the more delighted they are when we heed their wise and loving directions, because the more we trust and obey (as their child) the more we experience (enter into) the fullness of life they extent to us, desire for us (they desire this because of their great love for us) that we were created for i.e. the more we flourish and blossom into who we were designed to be. What loving parent doesn't want their kid to know the fullness of their love and experience all the benefits and joy that comes with it i.e. experience the most and best they were created to experience?

Do we to obey our parents because they need our trust and obedience. Not in the sense it adds anything to them as persons. But as loving parents they do want ("need") to know their kids are doing well and desire with all their hearts the absolute best for their child. 

Now, for sake of illustration, let's say our parents are infinitely wise and know exactly what that best is (if they are truly wise and loving they will know better than we do at a minimum), than we know (trust) heeding their instructions is in our best interest and it will not be hard to do so. The parents already know this, we however must learn this.

And when a child heeds well his parents instructions, how do parents respond? Not only are they delighted but they increasingly entrust that child with more because they long for their child to know an even greater fullness of their love e.g. they will let the kid use the car because they know the kid will take care of it and not misuse it or intentionally damage it. As the child shows greater trust in the parents, the parents have greater trust in the child. As the child proves themselves more trustworthy, they are entrusted with even more. The relationship grows and strengthens i.e. the love and trust on which all relationships are built, increases.

Of course we all know there are [3]no perfect parents, at least not on earth. But human parents are a type of our heavenly Father who is the perfect parent in every way because he alone is fully capable in every way (all wise, loving and powerful). And God as our perfect parent delights in knowing we are experiencing the best he has and there is for us. And he knows the best means of growing our trust in him and obedience to him; (doing as he says) because he knows what that best is better than anyone, including ourselves. 

In summary:

Does our faithful pursuit of God matter? No and yes. 

As far as our being his beloved child who is right (in right standing, justified) with God and the certainty of his love being secured (he will never leave us) and set on us, our pursuit makes absolutely zero difference. Somebody else had to (and was the only one who could) take care of this side of things and did i.e. Christ himself. 

As far as our experiencing all the warmth and benefits of that love fully secured for us and the closeness of relationship (fellowship) with him and bringing him joy and delight, it makes all the difference in the world, as with any love relationship. And when we stray it hurts God, not because he needs us but because he wants us to know the fullness of that love secured for us by Christ (which the Father and Son paid such a high price for) and that joy that is their for us in him. This is why Christ came and did what he did. As evidence of their love the Father and the Son went to great lengths to insure all of this for our joy and his glory. 

Heb 11:6  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 
But without faith it is impossible to please Him at all. For he who comes to God must of necessity in the nature of the case believe that He exists, and that He becomes a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him out. (Wuest).
 [1]This is what is meant by the frequent expression "in Christ" used over 90 times in the NT. 
[2]It should be pointed out that if we are now truly a redeemed child of God, we will be a new creature. Everything will be different. We will have new desires, a new outlook on live and ourselves. A clearer vision of God and his love for us resulting in a love for God that changes us and how we live. If there is no such change, the bible cautions us to "make our calling and election sure" i.e. do a spiritual self assessment and be sure these qualities are true of you and in you and increasing. If they are not we have no reason to believe we are his child. In fact we are cautioned that we may not be. 

While our living for God does not cause, insure or secure God's love for us, it is clear evidence that we know (receive/accept) his love for us i.e. that we have experienced it in such a way that we are no longer the person we were before knowing his love. When we know we are loved we will respond in faithfulness. This is not something we have to do in order to be saved, it is something we do because we are saved. If we don't live faithfully for God, this is an indication we my not have experienced his love. This is a key message of James and also in I John. 

Being his child however doesn't mean we are perfect. We all blow it, and often. But once we are a child of God, blowing it matters; it effects (bothers) us; it impacts our relationship with God, whereas before it didn't matter at all. Our caring about blowing it, is evidence we know God and value our relationship with him. 

But the most important point is it robs God of the joy and delight of seeing us participate in the fullness of his love and our experiencing the joy of seeing his kingdom (rule and reign of love) advanced through us to others. 

[3]What about those who didn't have such perfect parents growing up?... 
You have one now. 
When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. Psalm 27:10 (KJV) 
(CEV)  Even if my father and mother should desert me, you will take care of me.
(ERV)  Even if my mother and father leave me, the LORD will take me in.
(ESV)  For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.
(GNB)  My father and mother may abandon me, but the LORD will take care of me.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Racism and the importance and necessity of forgiveness

I originally wrote this a couple of days after the events in Charolettsville, Va. I was not going to publish it in part because there were many others raising good and thoughtful points. However since the media seems to have only gone further over the top in trying to fuel the flames of division and the insanity has only continued and even escalated I felt it was time to throw in my 2 cents. 

There is much anger and confusion over these events. A large part of problem with what we are seeing is many are accusing others of attitudes or actions (fueled by the media, "protesters" and various "gatekeepers") of guilt by association, as if merely being a certain race somehow means you are a racist or a bad person. This assertion is totally based on identity, the essence of *identity politics. Is has nothing to do with the actual conduct of a given individual
*It is also the very same strategy and approach communists have used to take over a standing political/economic system. i.e. creating class warfare such as the "bourgeois vs the working class" the "haves" vs the "have nots." This is sometimes referred to as the "divide and conquer" strategy. In this present conflict attempts are being made to create division primarily along racial lines, not necessarily economic lines.
For example, does anyone think it is fair to be looked upon or treated as a criminal (in the case of a "black" person or other person "of color") or a racist (in the case of a "white" person) because a small percentage within a given "group" are criminals or racists (whether in past or the present)? 

The unfortunate reality is bad people within "our" group may unfairly and poorly reflect on us, but this doesn't automatically mean we hold the same views or treat others in the same way as those actually guilty of wrong doing. Guilt by association is all too common with how different groups view one another today (and I would suggest attempts to advance this are deliberate). This is the essence of stereo typing. 
I am placing these varies identities in "quotes" because this is the unfortunate state of things. Group identities have wrongly been imposed on various groups by others (whether within or outside of our "group"). Identity politics in truth is divisive; I would argue, by design. And unfortunately it appears to be a primary tool of those who use it [such as the media and supporters of these different groups] to do exactly that, create division. Just labeling oneself (or being labeled) as a white this or a black that separates/divides instead of unifies.
We may be different in certain superficial ways but the reality is we are all humans created in the image of God and as has been said we all bleed the same red blood. So inherently the most important and fundamental things about us are more significant (primary, not secondary) than the differences. 
Is it fair to be stereo typed? I think we can all agree it is not. The black man has all too often been suspected of wrong doing merely for being black. This is wrong. No one wishes to be accused of something merely because of the "group" we are in or because of the actions of others within "our" group. All of us have experienced being accused of something we are not guilty of through guilt by association. No one likes it and rightfully so.

Denouncing wrongs and taking action

So how can we best address this? Is complaining or striking out in anger and destructive behavior towards certain "groups" the solution?  

Some thoughts:

We must denounce the wrong doing from within our own "group" in the clearest and strongest terms. For sake of this discussion, the white man must clearly denounce racism. There is never a justification for it, ever. For the black man, he must clearly denounce the crimes of gang violence or other things a black man might be falsely associated with merely by virtue of his color/race. To not do so could communicate we condone such destructive behavior by individuals within "our group." And if we condone it we are agreeing with it. However racism is racism...crime is crime. Both are wrong and should be clearly called out when and where appropriate by those who belong to the accused group.  

The other way to separate ourselves from the things we are falsely accused of is to prove by our actions, we are wrongfully accused. If we wish to not be falsely accused of certain views or behaviors we must be careful not to conduct ourselves in a way that might associate us with the bad elements within our own "group" i.e. our own race. 

For example, though this may not at all be the reason we behave a certain way and indeed be unfair, it would likely not be wise to fly a confederate flag in our front yard or place one in the back window of our car or drive around blasting "gangsta" rap, flashing "gangsta" signs and wearing "gangsta" paraphernalia (I am using more extreme examples to make the point clearly). These things send out a signal to others that we may hold to views, attitudes and behavior that are actually not ours. Fair? Maybe, maybe not. Some might simply like rap music or the history that the confederate flag represents (those quick to assume the worst and racists in general [on both sides] would likely disagree). 

We may participate in certain behavior (though not likely, which is exactly my point) because we are use to it or comfortable with it culturally. It's what we know and grew up with. So our participation may be innocent in this sense. Then we are shocked at the reaction we experience when we conduct ourselves in ways we are familiar with that have no racial motive for us personally. When we are mistreated for such behavior we may grow angry at the false accusation and began to hate our attackers. This is a vicious and self feeding contributor to racial tension when we had no racial motive in the beginning. 

Never the less, if our goal is to avoid being wrongly associated with or accused of certain views or attitudes, even though it may be unintentional on our part, we may wish to consider what part we play in contributing to any harassment, mislabeling and mistreatment. 

You may react with anger or decide to disassociate yourself with those things that cause you to be viewed as a racist. 

Granted you may rightly feel it is wrong to be accused of holding a certain view because of what may be very innocent (possibly unconscious) habits by you and that it's the responsibility of others to figure it out. But the reality is if we wish to live in harmony and understanding we can make a difference and play a role as well. 

Otherwise you simply don't care what others think, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but also might not be the most loving and considerate thing either. To use a biblical example, if eating meat sacrificed to idols offends my brother, don't eat it. No one wishes to be viewed with suspicion regardless of what group someone tries to put you in but the reality is it happens. So how do we respond?

My personal view is if someone makes an incorrect assessment of me I simply prove them wrong by my words and actions i.e. I don't give them reason to believe their view (prejudice) is correct (there are always instances where no matter what we do, we will still be mistreated). If some are so close minded they aren't willing to see the truth, I move on and pray for them. 

I don't believe we are obligated to persuade someone who is close minded nor should we feel sorry for ourselves and allow our self to be offended if and when rejected by others. I may feel sorry for them and their being narrow minded, but that is now their problem. I am always willing to talk if someone is open however. But if not, there is nothing I can do. Yes we are called to love our enemies but we are also told not to cast our pearls before swine (i.e. do not offer to someone something they don't appreciate or have an interest in receiving). 

Peer pressure and identity

We also may actually need to think about changes that could cause us to be accused by our peers of being an "Uncle Tom" or a "n***** lover".  Unfortunately this happens all to often and is a big reason people don't stand up. Being approved by our peers can have a very strong hold on us which is a big problem for some who don't have a strong (or any) sense of their identity in Christ. 

As believers, this should not be difficult however as our identity is rooted in Christ and not a particular group. The stronger we identify with Christ the less we need to identify with anything or anyone else. To say it practically I am beloved by God first, I am an American second, a husband, a family man, a [your occuption] and a [your, white, Asian, brown person etc] last, in that order. 

Note race must be last, not first. If this is a problem for you, it reveals how much your identity is rooted in something other than Christ. Race should be a miner aspect of who we are if we have a strong identity elsewhere. As the saying goes we need to be color blind. And for right now, emphasizing our race (regardless of who's doing it) is the least helpful thing we can be doing, particularly now with all the tension and race bating going on by many of the "gatekeepers" i.e. media, politicians, entertainment, sports and other so called "leaders" etc.   

Did white people in the past mistreat the black man/women? Yes. As a white man I denounce this mistreatment in no uncertain terms. This is what I can and should do. 

However to hold me responsible for the wrongs of someone in the past who just happened to be of the same race is not the fault of those who were not there and did not participate in that behavior. This would be the same as saying all Germans today are Nazi's because Hitler, who live over 70 years ago, was German. Being connected by nationality or race does not mean I am connected in attitude, view or action of those criminals who happened to be the same nationality or race as me. We each are responsible for our own actions and attitudes and should be accountable for them, not those of others.

Racism is not my problem

What about racism? Is it unique to any one group? Is it not an issue with any group and exists in varying degrees within all race groups. If so (and I believe it is) to decry one form of racism and not others is hypocritical. If it is wrong for one group, is it not wrong for other groups... for ALL groups, regardless of who that might be, in what form it might take or when and where it happens (happened)?

Some believe racism does not exist within their own group but only in others. Is this true? Is there not racism within groups of all kinds? If so, why do we tolerate (or not call out) racism among some but not others? Are some forms of racism ok, while others are not? Of course not. 

Now let's take it a step further. What if you are accused of being a racist by another who happens (and you know) to be racist them self (but from "another" group), what would you think, how would you feel? Would you be able to hear or accept their accusation or criticism? Should you hear it?

I am not giving answers at the moment or justifying any form of racism by asking, I am simply raising questions for us to ponder. Questions I don't presently hear discussed in all the current outrage being expressed these days. Without discussion there will be no understanding of the grievances felt by others regardless of which "side" one sees themselves on. This is a time to look in the mirror not point fingers. If we don't we all suffer. I would suggest none of us (not necessarily individually but the various groups) are without guilt.

The simple reality is we all prefer hanging with those most like us, whether that be by age, gender, hobby interests etc. It is more comfortable. Is this a kind of racism? Not saying it is or isn't, I am just pointing out this is common with all groups. When Christ said love our neighbor as ourselves, this also means treating others like you would naturally if they were someone who is just like you, whether they actually are or not. He didn't say love your neighbors if they are like you (look like you, act like you, has a similar background and culture like you with the same interests as you etc) and avoid those who aren't. 
As a side note I have had two long term accountability partners in my life that span 20 years. I had virtually nothing in common with either of them socially, historically or culturally. Both of them came from a different time in our culture (one was older and one younger, one was of Mexican decent and a former Marine and I was a former "child of the 60's" who called his kind "jarheads" and "spics" when I was a young stupid kid) but what we did have in common which created the absolute strongest bond and totally nullified any of that was our mutual desire to know God and our love for Jesus. Because that was our main connection, it was so strong it overroad everything else. As a result we actually came to enjoy each other socially. Image that!

Some answers to this current issue of racism.

1. Racism is a form of hatred of our fellow man/women and is wrong and dangerous!

2. To excuse your own hatred and racism because the one you hate is a racist doesn't justify yours and overrule point 1. You can and should hate racism but that doesn't justify hating another person because of their race or racism. Racism is wrong, no matter who expresses it or what reason is given. As my dad use to always tell me "two wrongs don't make a right"

3. To say racism is unique to one particular race is also dangerous. In some ways it may be more dangerous because it allows someone to play the victim and hide behind their own racism, all the while pretending to be virtuous in their hate and anger against racism (as if theirs doesn't exist or is justified because it's directed at the racism of others). It must be called out on all sides. Racism is racism. It doesn't matter who participates or why. All of it is wrong.

Two things needed to diffuse the hate and anger of racism

Now there is one major problem with everything I have said so far. Not that I think it's untrue but that it focuses only one side of the problem i.e. the offense. There is an entirely different side to this. Maybe the most important side. That is forgiveness? Where does that come in to all this. 

There are two things needed to properly address racism. One is when you are guilty, to fully acknowledge the wrong, hurt and suffering it causes (or has caused) i.e. seek forgiveness when and where necessary and appropriate and denounce and abandon it if and when guilty. This is critical and often lacking (if someone isn't personally a racist they of course should not apologize for being one, simply because they aren't; but it is certainly appropriate to express regret and sorrow for the racism of others i.e. for them being mistreated (I am not talking about slavery. Though unfortunate and not to be made light of, that is history. It is not the present experience of most least not in it's past form. I am talking about present mistreatment, which is what I have been addressing up until now). 

But in addition to acknowledging mistreatment of others, without forgiveness by those who have been wronged, healing can never occur and nothing will be resolved. To say it another way, you can't control the behavior of others, but you can control your own attitude and outlook. 

Sadly some racists will never acknowledge their wrong doing. However those offended can still do something. If we are believers we can keep it from going beyond ourselves and passing it along, thereby helping prevent its spreading and continuing the damage. This may seem unfair, but much in this broken world is and God promises the scales of justice will one day be balanced. Certainly the attitude of Christ in his mistreatment would be our example here e.g. "Father forgive them for they do not know what they do."

Why is forgiveness is more critical 

Because EVERYONE offends and everyone is offended at one time or another. Certainly some are more offended than others (no one however was more mistreated than Christ himself). At some point there not only needs to be an full and clear admission of wrong doing but also forgiveness or there will only be ongoing hatred and destruction; not just to others but to ourselves and those around us. 

Addressing offenses is so critical the bible calls both parties to address it even if or when the other party does not.

1.     The offender is called to ask for forgiveness whether the offended grants it or not.


2.     The offended are called to forgive whether the offender asks for it or not.

Both are accountable to do their part regardless of what the other party does.  

What is significant of this dual responsibility? The only one who can actually cut the fuse of hatred is the one offended. Why is this? Is it because the offender has no responsibility? No, he/she is totally responsible and will be held accountable for their actions one day; if not now certainly in eternity. The unfortunate reality is the offender my never acknowledge their wrong  doing. Again, we can't control the behavior of others, we can only control our own attitude and outlook.

What do we do then? Just seethe in our hatred? Because we all sin and offenses are unfortunately part of living in broken world, at some point we have to forgive or our bitterness will destroy us. We are instructed to let no root of bitterness take hold (Hebrews 12:15) as it will no only destroy us but others around us we are responsible for and called to love. Offenses are the unfortunate fruit of our rebellion against God himself. Ultimately the only thing that prevents sin from "landing," taking root in us and destroying others is the forgiveness of those offended.

And this is rooted and grounded in Christ himself. He did what was necessary to bring forgiveness to all who will accept it by taking on himself the consequences of all offenses (our own and that of others) so they are no longer held against us. And in so doing he even asked for the forgiveness of those who killed him...who committed the ultimate oppression against him if you will.  

We are also cautioned that we will not be forgiven if we refuse to forgive others. I think this is saying if we can not find it in our heart to forgive it may be because we have not yet fully accepted God's forgiveness for our own wrongdoing. Forgiveness (being able to forgive others) is the fruit of being forgiven first. It is virtually impossible to forgive if we do not acknowledged our own offences and accept forgiveness. If there is no forgiveness for others we may be a person who hasn't yet accepted the forgiveness of God. To say this another way, if there is no forgiveness for us, we will have no forgiveness in our heart for others. 

But it goes even deeper. We can never be forgiven if we do not realize we need it first i.e. that we are all offenders. And our biggest offense is not doing right by God i.e. not giving God what he rightfully deserves...all honor and due respect. If you are offended for not being given proper respect, what about your not given him proper respect? 

Why does he deserve honor and respect? Because all we have and are is from him yet we act as if it is not.

He has done everything necessary to forgive our wrong of not acknowledging his rightful honor, by putting that offense on Christ on our behalf; for our sake. Yet, we reject his offer; the offer of ultimate and total forgiveness. This is an insult to the work and offer of Christ from which there is no remedy. Not because one is not available but because it is the only one that exists yet we reject it. 

To be forgiving, you must first be forgiven. 


For more discussion on being offended click here

For a discussion on why and how we must distinguish culture from race click here

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The just shall live by faith

But what is it exactly that we, as followers of Christ (i.e. the just/righteous) are called to believe, have faith in, live by?

First we are called to believe that our right standing (being just) with God is based on God's provision (a gift) of righteousness through Christ, not our performance (it is however based on someones (Christ's) performance, just not ours). This addresses our status as being declared (pronounced or sentenced if you will) righteous (right) before God and now fully beloved by him. 

Secondly because of this right standing given to us by God, nothing can or does happen to us (or are we called to do i.e. obedience) outside the realm of God's infinite and unlimited love, wisdom and power. This is the essence of what Paul means when he says all things work together for the good of those who love God. And the reason they do is because the difficult things press us closer into God and make us more like Jesus, which is always a good, actually it's the best thing. By being more Christ like we enter more fully into the love, union and communion between the Father and the Son, the essence of not just God's life/Spirit, but our own.

As we go about life in this fallen and broken world, experiencing our own weakness and faults and that of others, we must constantly remind ourselves that God is for us not against us (Christ and the Spirit themselves are even praying for you this very moment as you read). Absolutely nothing can ever (nor ever does) separate us from his love...ever. 

This involves our ongoing experience of God's love and care (providence). It is based upon our status but separate from it. Without our right standing with God we would not have complete unfettered access to him or be the child of his infinite love and care. Nor could we be sure of his love power and wisdom is working in our lives at all times and in all circumstances. 

The life and death of Christ assures of both a right standing before God and God's ongoing commitment to us in all things. 

Both the status of our right standing before God and God's ongoing, relentless and infinite love and care for us are promises we receive (live) by faith i.e. the just shall live by faith.

Engaging (or not) who we are

Can we lose sight of these realities (promises)? Yes and we do often whenever we doubt (stop believing) these things are true.

Can or do we ever feel alienated from God and his love? Absolutely, but that is on only our side of the relationship, not on God's side. Because God's love is not based on our performance but on Christ's (which is finished), his love is 100% locked in and fixed upon us due to Christ's efforts which are finished. God's care/love never ceases and can never be more or less than it already is. 

It is this reality we are called to believe i.e. the just shall live by the reality of God's unfaltering, nonstop and relentless love fixed upon us in Christ. By faith we know that as God's child, absolutely nothing happens to us outside of God's infinite wisdom, care and control.

We are called to believe these things and live by them. When we do we are living by faith and abide in/experience the love of God as he desires and calls us to. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Beatific Vision...what is that?!

The following is an attempt to capture the essence of the beatific vision with a much fuller discussion by Kyle Strobel on the link at the end. 

The beatific vision (first God's own, than ours) creates eternal and infinite delight (happiness) because that which is most beautiful and delightful (God) is beheld, engaged and communed with (participated in).
We experience this vision now by faith (through a glass darkly...from a distance). The greater our faith the more we experience it. But in eternity we will experience it directly (face-to-face). As God reveals more of himself our experience of him in eternity will also increase forever. 
The essence of the life of God is the giving and receiving of infinite glory/honor/love/ delight between and among the persons of the Godhead (Trinity). It is this foundational, primary, eternal and infinite community of Glory/Beauty/Delight we too are designed for and called (offered) to participate in.

Our sharing and participation in this is our greatest joy/happiness. This in turn moves us to share this/him with others. As we do it (our delight in him) is further magnified and intensified.

Our joy is God's greatest joy (outside of the joy he has always known and knows within himself).

It is ours only because it is first his.

Our participating in and sharing (passing along..."paying it forward" if you will) his glory throughout the earth not only brings God honor/glory but also gives him great joy and us as well.

God delights in our delight in him and our sharing that delight with others. This is what he does (he delights in himself and the sharing of it) and what we in turn are also designed for. In this primary way (among other ways) we are just like him (in his image). 

He does not wish to keep his glory to himself but desires it be multiplied throughout the earth, thereby increasing that glory (not by him becoming more glorious within himself but in his glory being experienced by more people i.e. more broadly disseminated and in this sense multiplying his glory). 

This is why he sends us and why we go.

All things are from him through him and to him. To him be the glory forever! Amen! (Rom 11:36He is the Alpha and Omega; The Beginning and End (Rev_22:13).

Joh 16:14  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 
Joh_17:5  And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
Joh 17:13  But now I (Jesus) am coming to you (Father), and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves
Joh_17:22  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
Joh_17:24  Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

A much fuller and more technical discussion of the beatific vision by Dr. Kyle Strobel is available here.


The following is a reproduction of the Strobel article with highlights and notes added. (endnotes not included. For endnotes go to full Strobel article in link above) 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

why God calls us to glorify him

The call of God to glorify him is also a call to experience our greatest glory i.e. our greatest sense of value, meaning, importance, delight, joy etc.

It is a call that is all about us because it's all about God first i.e. God calls us to glorify him so we might experience our greatest glory and joy which is only in him, the All Glorious One.

The only reason it can be about us is because it's all about God first i.e. if God were not the God of great glory, we would not experience the great joy of knowing him or be created by him as bearers of his image with the ability to experience that glory. We not only exist because he made us but we also enjoy him in a way nothing else in creation can because of the way he made us i.e. in his image.

The reason God pushes so hard (constantly calling) for us to glorify him is because his love of us is that great i.e. he longs for our greatest delight and joy.

When you know what you have to offer is that good for someone (who you greatly love) you will go to great lengths to persuade them to take up your offer. Even to the point of going over the top in your efforts; maybe even coming off as obnoxious at times. You know once they do they will be so delighted they did, they will be forever grateful for your persistence and staying on them. 

God doesn't call us repeatedly because he needs us (Acts 17:24-25) to glorify him (knowing and experiencing his own glory has been the essence of his being as Father, Son and Spirit from all eternity past). He knows we need to glorify him. It is in our best interest when we do.

He also calls us to glorify him simply because first and foremost he is all glorious. For him to call us to glorify anything other than him is not only untrue but it is to our harm and greatest loss because it's untrue.

The call of God to glorify him is an invitation to experience our greatest delight and joy. A joy that can only be found in the source of ultimate delight and joy i.e. The interrelational joy and delight found from and within the Father, Son and Spirit.

In summary, there are two parts to God's call for us to glorify him. 

1.     He is all glorious. To find a greater glory in anything other than God is simply not true or possible. 
2.     He loves us infinitely and therefore desires our greatest delight and joy.

Actually there is a third that flows out of the first two. 

     3.  As we increasingly experience God in all his glory our desire to share it (him) with others grows, thereby expanding it, bringing joy to a greater number and greater honor to him as well as greater joy to us. 

Other links that look at different aspects of experiencing his glory and our worth: 

·        Worthless rotten sinners
·        Hard wired for greatness
·        Created for glory
·        Does God value us?
·        Our worth based on what?
·        Our worth Gods glory
·        Giving and receiving glory