Friday, September 14, 2012

Is God Selfish for Seeking His Own Glory?

The Bible tells us that God works all things for the purpose of His own glory and exaltation. So we sing it in hymns, put it in book dedications (I have it mine), and say it in doxologies. But it seems to rub people the wrong way when we say that God seeks His own glory, and that is His goal in saving us and damning humanity that has become corrupt. Because of this, many modern evangelicals push back and think that such is a selfish act on the part of God. They just have to learn to deal with it because it's God and figure He must be in the right some how, even though selfishness is a bad attribute for a human to have. But God ought to do everything out of love instead.

But this is a complete misunderstanding of God's purposes. The act of God's self-exaltation and glorification is not a selfish act at all. Rather it is the only appropriate act of love toward people. In other words, they are not separate acts, the glorification and love of God, but one and the same act.

Now, I should say at the get go that God deserves to be glorified and exalted as God, regardless of whether we benefit from that or not. He is God, and is not as a human being who does not deserve such self-exaltation. The reason why it's wrong for human beings to do this is because they aren't God, not because it's always wrong for any being, namely God, to do it.

Having said that, God's act of self-exaltation and glorification is, indeed, an act of love toward us. Here's why. God is the source of all life and flourishing of life. He is the source of our spirits and minds and the One who can cause them to grow rather than to diminish. Apart from God, humans decay. Apart from a vital relationship with God, humans quickly become animalistic and less than human. As Peter says, we become unreasoning animals that are good for nothing but to be captured and killed. We lose ourselves, and thus, we lose our lives.

To live, then, as Paul says, is Christ. It is living in God that one truly has life and becomes the human he or she was always purposed to be. The spirit of man flourishes. His mind grows. His love grows. As the Lord Jesus said, he becomes a medium through which rivers of life flow.

What this all means is that apart from God, we perish, not just in the sense of going to hell, which is merely the place where God must send those who have chosen the path of corrupt and decayed sub-humanity, but also in every sense, where our humanity, spirit, mind, body, love for other, has perished. Indeed, false humanity soon turns into the seedbed of chaos, where all are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God and others. In short, without God, true humanity that grows and flourishes in life and creation cannot be.

What this means is that God's self-glorification and exaltation over all other things, including ourselves, is much like the exalting and glorification of a life-support machine above all other machines. A child who is in need of it cannot sometimes attribute to the machine life and other times take him off of it and hook up a video game to himself instead. Imagine, then, if the life-support machine was personified and could act on its own. Would it be loving of the machine to detach the child who desperately needed it from itself and gave an equal share of credit to the coffee machine for awhile? This would be an act that kills the child, but sounds unselfish, doesn't it? What if the life-support machine simply took the child off of itself and gave credit to the child to support his own life? Again, it seems unselfish to let the child have some credit for his own life, but in reality, it's just an act of hatred that kills the child.

This is also why it must be the true God, and not a counterfeit that merely comes close to looking like the true God, who can save us. There are many machines in the hospital that look like life-support machines. They even do things that look similar. But if we were to hook them up in replacement of a life-support that was absolutely needed, it would merely mean the end of the patient's life.

Hence, God's self-exaltation and glorification is not only right because He deserves to be exalted and glorified as the awesome God that He is, but also because it is the only possible loving act toward those who would live rather than decay and perish from their true humanity. He wants us to recognize Him as our life-support, never sharing glory or exaltation with another entity, as no other entity can save us. He is our Maker, our "Sustainer," our Redeemer, our Life, our Truth, our Salvation. Apart from Him, we perish. Apart from Him, there is no life. There is only darkness and chaos and false humanity drifting forever toward its shallow and destructive end.

So God is jealous of our worship of other gods, even gods that attempt to look like Him but are not Him. He hates them, because if we worship them, they destroy us and the others around us. It is His desire that He alone be exalted and worshiped as God. He alone ought to be glorified as the One in Whom we have life, because if we fail to do so, we hook ourselves up to what cannot save our lives. And He zealously seeks our lives to be saved. He is the only One who does not have a broken rope hanging down to humanity that resides in a pit. He is the only One who can scoop us up from the flood. There is no other, and so, there is no loving act in letting His glory and exaltation go to another, including to ourselves, as we are as incapable of saving ourselves as any other false god.

So we most affectionately say what a thousand other book descriptions, a thousand songs that are sung, and thousand doxologies say every Sunday, soli Deo gloria, "to God alone be the glory."

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ. For He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight. In love, He did this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son. In Him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight. He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, toward the administration of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ – the things in heaven and the things on earth. In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, would be to the praise of his glory. And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation) – when you believed in Christ  – you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory. (Eph 1:3-14)

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