Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
As a person involved in ministry that often takes place on a platform, I am often posed this question: “Is this glorifying to God?” It is indeed a good question, for this question can serve as a good gauge for all of us in every aspect of our lives. Every moment has potential to be worship, to be holy, if what we say and do—on or off the "platform" of church leadership—glorifies God.
I found myself asking whether or not the church as a whole was glorifying God during the midterm elections. I witnessed the onslaught of hate, ignorance, and closed-mindedness that came from the mouths and social media profiles of people who I call brothers and sisters in Christ. If loving Jesus is congruent to loving one another, then something must be askew in our understanding of what it means to glorify God.
"Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20
Sometimes we forget that to truly glorify God, we are called to restore dignity to His image in other people; to enjoy Him forever is a mercy that we are to invite others into. The words and heart of Jesus draw people close to him, and in doing so, draw us closer to one another. So if we find that following Jesus pushes us further away from our brothers and sisters who also love Jesus, we have to step back and ask ourselves, “Is what I’m doing or saying glorifying to God?”
Christena Cleveland in her book, Disunity in Christ, writes,
"Yes, we do need to have candid conversations about racial injustice in the church and beyond, how we are interacting with the natural environment, how we are caring for the homeless, how we are protecting the unborn, how we are defining atonement, who we are voting for, and so forth. These are necessary and valuable conversations. The trick is to wisely use our Christian friends’ ideology to humble us, strengthen us, and enhance our understanding of God, and the role we are to play and His kingdom. And we should influence our friends in the same way, as iron sharpens iron."
Our Presbyterian brothers and sisters have a tradition that dates back to the 1600s. Upon entering the denomination, people are taught over 100 points of theology. The first point is highlighted above: "Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever." When I heard this phrase for the first time, I remember thinking that it was a great way to set the stage for the work of a disciple.
This idea is firmly founded in the words of Jesus throughout the New Testament; consider these two mandates in scripture:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” - Mark 12:30-31
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:19-20
If I take my discipleship to Jesus seriously, I need to accept that there are indeed things in me that need to change.
There are things I get wrong, things I don’t fully understand, biases I don’t see, patterns of behavior and habits that need to change. And whether I like it or not, the pathway to renewal in my life with Jesus is largely carried out by being in community with other Christians—including ones that vote differently than me.
Sadly, the church is often viewed as an example of polarization and distrust in our nation. What if instead, the world knew who we honored over what we disagreed with by our words and actions? What if the church was the city on a hill? The preserving salt and shining light, the example of unity that the world looks to while the empire (in whatever form it takes) crumbles into divisive destruction?
Consider this practically, friends: What does it mean for us, as the church, to honor the image of God in each other? What does it look like for you, in turn, to glorify God in your daily lives and enjoy Him forever?
Thanks for joining,