“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”1 Corinthians 10:31
Let me ask you a serious question (and you can’t run to Google). How valuable is the Yen? Unless you’re quite the world traveler, retired Air Force, or Ken Jennings, my guess is that you haven’t the slightest idea. Why is that? If I offered you 10 Yen, 100 Yen, or 1 million Yen, you’d be at a loss to judge what any amount is actually worth without at least one object of known value to measure it against.
For example, suppose I tell you that a gallon of milk is 700 Yen. Could you then give me a reasonable estimate for what a car costs in Yen? Probably.
And if I continued by informing you that gas per gallon is 540 Yen, rent for a three bedroom apartment in the city per month is 183,000 Yen, and a pair of Nike runners will run you about 8,000 Yen, would you have a better or worse understanding of what Japanese currency is worth? Because of the revealed data, you have the necessary context to judge its value.
Analogy is another way in which you can learn about something that’s unknown by comparing it to something that is known.
So why talk about Yen, analogies, and Ken Jennings? Where is this going?
God is not like us. And to grasp even a modicum of His greatness, we need a framework, a vocabulary to draw from and contextualize for us His essence. The Scriptures clearly indicate that God desires that we know Him, and when He reveals Himself to us, He uses analogy and Creation.
When we ponder the immense size of the Universe (which proclaims His magnitude), its beauty, the complexity of life, the taste of strawberries, and everything else that speaks to His majesty and goodness, we are glimpsing His eternal power and divine nature. The Creation was crafted by God to reveal God, and it does it well.
But more than this, when God condescends to expound even more so on His character by direct interaction with His covenant people, many times He speaks using analogy.
God made sheep dumb and loyal so that, in studying the shepherd, we could understand something of His care. The sun makes life possible (like God), illuminates (like God), can hardly be approached (like God), and the further away from it you get, the worse off you’ll be (like God), and so He made it. Our bodies need daily sustenance, which He generously provides, and He uses this fact (that He made a fact) to inform us of our need for spiritual sustenance, which is Him. Purpose is built into the Universe, and that purpose is to capture the Infinite, to explain the Holy.
Even a fall into sin could not stop His story from being told. For with evil, the cry goes out for Justice. With trouble, the call is for Help. With sorrow, Comfort. And with hopelessness, Hope. So sin was allowed only to drive us deeper into longing for the Almighty. Even it is subservient to the will of God and, though hating it intensely and not causing it directly, He uses it to only increase our joy and gratitude when He delivers us from its jaws.
And this will get me in trouble, but even rejecting Him glorifies Him. For His exercising of justice highlights the vastness of His grace for those who do not reject His free offer of forgiveness. Those who are saved, are saved with the knowledge that they deserve Hell just as much as the sinner who abhors God, and God’s mercy is the only difference. Such a knowledge is the fuel that will power praise that will not cease.
“What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—”Romans 9:22-23
So even Hell extols His benevolence. And if Hell can do that, I doubt there exists an atom in Creation that has a lesser purpose.
The Ignorant Response
You might now be asking yourself, “If everything in existence is created to explain and glorify God, doesn’t this make God the ultimate egotist? Isn’t it wrong to enjoy yourself to such a degree?”
Let me help you out.
Ought we chastise the painter for enjoying his painting? Or the singer his song? Is it a crime for an artist to think highly of his own work? Should we call him an artist who doesn’t? And do we not praise the makers of beauty for sharing what they find beautiful? Then why is God any exception?
Far from being a Trumpian exercise in self pleasuring, God’s Creation is the Master Canvas, a portrait of all things undeniably glorious and wonderful. It’s a work that can only be fully comprehended by Himself, yet one that not only He enjoys, but is capable of enjoying Him back.
You can no more fault the Almighty for capturing His splendor than you can condemn Beethoven for crafting ‘Ode to Joy.’ Especially when all you are is a note in the score! The only distinction to make is that, while God is telling of His own radiance, Beethoven’s greatest works are his desperate attempts to lay hold of the Divine. Goodness is goodness, and God is “The Good.“
It’s no crime to be supremely significant and lovely. The only crime for a being so wonderful would be to deny He is.
So in the final analysis, we were created to praise God and are instructed at every turn by His Creation to do just that. To see Him as unfathomably greater than all He can give. You may say that such seems egotistical, but for God to finally give you over to an ultimate affection that is not Him, is a thought that should make even the hardest heart shrill. It is intensely great that The Great One should give you Himself!
Don’t waste the offer.