If the glory of God is the driving force behind missions, is God a narcicssist? God desires (hopefully as do we all) that there be a worshiping people before his throne from every tribe, tongue, nation and people (promised by Rev 5:9 and 7:9). John Piper has been one of the most vocal proponents that God is fully deserving of this glory from all. Missions involves gathering together worshippers so he gets more glory.
But for others, God’s concern for His own fame and glory seems to be “vain and egotistical”. Paul Copan tries to answer this question in an article, Divine Narcissism, in Philophia Christi (8:2:2006), “Why does God desire for us to worship, praise and glorify Him? Why is it wrong for us–but not for God–to be so self-preoccupied?”
His article is subtitled “A further defense of God’s Humilty”. Valuable thoughts for anyone with a passion for the glory of God.
Copan says that God should not be thought of as proud. “Rather, he has a realistic view of himself, not a false or exaggerated one. His view of himself isn’t distorted or unnecessarily lofty. He is God, after all!”
Speaking about praise, Copan says, “Praise is called for by creatures caught up with God’s greatness, power, goodness and love. Praise is the climax of realizing God’s excellencies, and creatures fittingly erupt in praise, spontaneously beckoning the rest of us to do the same. ” Amen and Amen!
What do you do when you have a compassion deficit?
Consider the empathy and compassion of Jesus and ask God to help us feel the same compassion He feels when we see others in need. Susan Muto says that reception of mercy generates compassion for others; compassion “will flow from the sacred heart of Jesus.”
From Brennan Mannings’s Abbas Child
As we experience the tenderness of God towards us, this tenderness, makes us feel secure and we discover that “we are thoroughly and sincerely liked by someone. . . The defense mechanisms of the imposter—sarcasm, name-dropping, self-righteousness, the need to impress others—fall away. We become open, real, vulnerable, and affectionate. We grow tender. 64
“The way of tenderness avoids blind fanaticism. Instead it seeks to see with penetrating clarity. The compassion of God in our hearts opens our eyes to the unique worth of each person.” 73
“The rhythm of relentless tenderness in the Rabbi’s heart makes loving terribly personal, terribly immediate, and terribly urgent.” 164
What a personal challenge I find here.
“Your gentleness made me great.” Psalm 18:35 (parallel with 2 Sam 22:36) A mystery here against which I am scratching, trying to understand. The one whose greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:3) is also gentle and as He stoops down” (NIV translation) He makes me great.
From the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology,
(ii) Psalm 18:27 . David praises God for the victory going to the afflicted, while the proud are afflicted in this typical divine reversal of circumstances. In 18:35 , in the third part of the verse, we have “and your humility has made me great” (NIV you stoop down to make me great; note 2 Sam 22:36, “and your help has made me great”). Many conjectures have been proposed for the unusual form, but the sense of divine humility in 18:35  is not impossible (Ps 113:6). God’s condescension has saved David. God had stooped to conquer David’s enemies. The divine character had been exhibited in seeking and promoting the welfare of David. There seems to be no incompatibility between humility of this character and the exercise of God’s controlled power (Dawes, 46).
With permission, I wanted to share a slightly edited version of a post a friend made. He writes following the death of his wife and grandson and his reflections come out of a meditation on Psalm 23 and Romans 8:28.
Lord teach me to continue to weep. Losing my wife has been the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. The loss of my grandson 2 weeks later added and deepened the loss. Maybe in this world where there is so much brokenness, darkness, pain, hurt, greed, so much that is not right, and not good – where so many are wounded, lost, stuck, broken and hidden in darkness – Perhaps my heavenly Father desires to teach me to weep over the losses of His heart, the pain in His creation, to mourn the lost, brokenhearted, and captives of this world. Pray for me to learn to not stop weeping. Pray my heart will grow to embrace my Father’s heart and weep not only for my losses but also for the losses on His heart.
Another post from my friend whose wife died recently. He writes following a family gathering and remembrances of his wedding day. Even in the midst of his pain and grief, he is ministering to others by his writing. Amazing really.
I’m learning about the nature of love and God’s love for me. He experienced this pain and sorrow and separation when He chose to give Jesus for one such as me. He chose that path for the opportunity for me to know Him and to become part of His family. I never would have chosen this path, but He chose it because of the joy set before Him and the hope of an eternity of he with me and I with Him.
I’m learning that one of my “tasks” of becoming, one of the “big blocks” is about rooting my identity more firmly, more deeply in the Lord Jesus. He’s the strong, safe and secure anchor of my heart and soul. The boat of my life surges up and down, to and fro – battered by the storms of this present season, but the anchor of hope holds fast to Jesus – the author and the perfector of my faith. what a gift from Him.
May you find Him as true and sure in the trials you are experiencing today.
More from my friend John who lost his wife a few months ago.
In my grieving process, I am where I am but the LORD is “I am who I am!” He, my shepherd is with me here where I am and that’s enough. The creator God of the universe who is powerful, present, the God of all comfort and the one who always initiates toward us with His loving kindness, mercy and grace is at my side joining me in my grief. Where else can I look for help but to the Lord who rides in majesty and Who is my help! He is and He is my help. Rest my soul rest.