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Are You Shining God’s Glory?

by John Piper

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” Psalm 19:1

We waste our lives when we do not pray and think and dream and plan and work toward magnifying God in all spheres of life. God created us for this: to live our lives in a way that makes Him look more like the greatness and the beauty and the infinite worth that He really is. In the night sky of this world, God appears to most people, if at all, like a pinprick of light in a Heaven of darkness. But He created us and called us to make Him look like what He really is. This is what it means to be created in the image of God. We are meant to image forth in the world what He is really like.

For many people, this is not obviously an act of love. They do not feel loved when they are told that God created them for His glory. They feel used. This is understandable given the way love has been almost completely distorted in our world. For most people, to be loved is to be made much of. Almost everything in our Western culture serves this distortion of love. We are taught in a thousand ways that love means increasing someone’s self-esteem. Love is helping someone feel good about themselves. Love is giving someone a mirror and helping him like what he sees.

This is not what the Bible means by the love of God. Love is doing what is best for someone. But making self the object of our highest affections is not best for us. It is, in fact, a lethal distraction. We were made to see and savor God – and savoring Him, to be supremely satisfied, and thus spread in all the world the worth of his presence. Not to show people the all-satisfying God is not to love them. To make them feel good about themselves when they were made to feel good about seeing God is like taking someone to the Alps and locking them in a room full of mirrors.

The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves. And each of these rare and precious moments in life – beside the Canyon, before the Alps, under the stars – is an echo of a far greater excellence, namely, the glory of God. That is why the Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

Sometimes people say that they cannot believe that, if there were a God, He would take interest in such a tiny speck of reality called humanity on planet earth. The universe, they say, is so vast that it makes man utterly insignificant. Why would God have bothered to create such a microscopic speck called the earth and humanity and then get involved with us?

Beneath this question is a fundamental failure to see what the universe is about. It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about Himself. And He says it for us to learn and enjoy – namely, that He is infinitely great and powerful and wise and beautiful. The more the Hubble Telescope sends back to us about the unfathomable depths of space, the more we should stand in awe of God. The disproportion between us and the universe is a parable about the disproportion between us and God. And it is an understatement. But the point is not to nullify us but to glorify Him.

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John Piper is founder of Desiring God, chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary, author of 50+ books, and former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, MN. Learn more at DesiringGod.org

Taken from Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, © 2003 by Desiring God Foundation, pp. 32-34. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187

 

 

 

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