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.”
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.
From John Fischer’s post of March 25 by the same name
God doesn’t want your ability as much as he wants your availability.
We shine in our abilities; God shines in our availability.
Our ability makes us strong; our availability makes us vulnerable.
People are impressed with our abilities; God is impressed with our availability.
Practice improves our ability; faith improves our availability.
Our ability makes us popular; our availability makes God popular.
Not everyone is able; but anyone can be available.
Our ability draws on our natural talents; our availability draws on our spiritual gifts.
Ability can put us in the way; availability keeps us out of the way.
Our ability is fine; our availability is better.
God teams up with our ability; He gets inside our availability.
These are all reasons why God doesn’t want our ability as much as he wants our availability.
You might expect the above statement to come from a health and wealth proponent but it comes from a man who is soon to die; who has lived with severe chronic pain and cancer the last few years. Following are excerpts from an interview Timothy Dalrymple had with William Stuntz. One of the most compelling pieces I have ever read. Thanks to my dear wife. Headings are mine but the rest is excerpted from an interview with Stuntz.
God is eager to bless
My experience of cancer especially is that God is just so eager to bless. I find blessing all over the place, not in the cancer itself but all around it. It would almost be easier to answer what blessings I have not found.
Since my cancer diagnosis, I have experienced more friendship from more people than at any other time in my life. I’ve experienced not just a quality of medical care but a kind of medical care, humane medical care delivered by humane and decent people, that seems Christ-like to me. I don’t know the religious convictions of all the people who have treated me, but I certainly believe that they are used by God in ways that are really quite extraordinary to bring blessing to people who are in circumstances that lead them to hunger for blessing. I do hunger for blessing in the midst of these medical conditions, but I regularly find that hunger satisfied.
Life has become more concrete
Chronic pain and cancer both make life more concrete. In times of good health, when our bodies are doing everything we want and expect them to do, there is a tendency to think of spiritual life as something that is anything but concrete. That’s not possible, I find, in my present circumstances. My medical conditions, independently and together, are inescapable. Perhaps that’s the key feature. They are there all the time. There is no time when I am not aware of them. I hurt all the time. I’m exhausted all the time. There is no escaping either of those states of affairs. I simply never feel like I used to feel virtually all the time.
I am more than but not less than a cancer patient
I want to be more than a cancer patient and chronic pain patient. But I cannot be less than a cancer patient and a chronic pain patient. Those are large parts of my life. They are part of who I am. Although I would love to have my pain and my cancer removed tomorrow, that would not be an easy thing. I would have to learn how to be somebody else.
NOT Believing in the God of Disappointment
What I am displeased with is my own living of life. I feel an acute sense that I ought to have done better with the circumstances I was given. This is one of the reasons why it cut me so deeply when people suggested that suffering is God’s discipline — because I find it so very, very easy to believe in a God who is profoundly disappointed in me.
It seems utterly natural to believe in the Disappointed God, because I myself am disappointed. He must be even more disappointed, I think, because his standards are so much higher than mine. How could he not be disappointed? That makes complete sense to me.
It’s the other God, the God who does not experience that kind of disappointment, the God who sees me the way that Prodigal Son’s father saw him — that is the harder God for me to believe in. It takes work for me to believe in that God.
God longing for me is unspeakably sweet
“You will call and I will answer. You will long for the creature your hands have made” (Job 14:15).
I find those lines very powerful. The concept that God longs for the likes of me is so unspeakably sweet. I almost cannot bear to say them aloud. They are achingly sweet for me to hear.
There are many passages I love, but that one in particular has grabbed hold of me. Job’s hope, it turns out, is more realistic than his despair.
Just read an article in which “knowing God” was stated to be more important to the Eastern religions of Buddhism and Hinduism versus the importance of “knowing about God” of to Christianity. While I beg to disagree, there does seem to be some element of truth when you look at the experience of many Christians (and yes, I am including myself here). According to Gary Moon, the reason why there is so little distinction between Christians and non-Christians is because Christians (and I would add especially evangelicals) tend to focus on salvation as judicial pardon from sin instead of intimate “knowing” of God.
BUT John 17:3 says, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” According to Moon, we enter into eternal life by “knowing” God, a knowing which he would describe a “deeply intimate, interactive, and transforming friendship built upon abiding, living in the other.” Apprenticeship with Jesus, p. 125
Moon gives a great quote at the beginning of chapter 14 in the above book from Dallas Willard,
In the purpose of God’s redemptive work communication advances into communion and communion into union. When the progression is complete we can truly say, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20) and “For me, living is Christ” (Phil 1:21).
I know the progression is not yet complete in me! The last few days I have been wrestling with lots of self-doubt and fear and only minutes after spending a lovely time alone with God early this morning reflecting on what it means for me to fear God, I found myself furious over an email that I received in which I felt publicly humiliated (another story). But, I also know that God is not finished with me!
Moon suggested the following spiritual exercise to help us celebrate salvation as living in intimate union with God:
Spend the next twenty-four hours abiding in God and then resolve to spend as many present moments of the day “with God” as you can. (italics mine)
Helpful Hint: At any point you become aware of yourself thinking about either the past or the future, let those thoughts go and return to being with God in the present moment. After a few deep breaths, ask him simply, “What should we do together right now?”
Let’s see what happens.
“I believe that the essence of sin is the fear that God does not have our best interests at heart.” 97 So said Gary Moon in Apprenticeship with Jesus: Learning to live like the Master. I am currently in the section called “Know Yourself” and there are four chapters here, The Good, Bad, The Ugly and The Beautiful. Naturally, I want to write about “The Bad.”
Moon says that when we begin to fear that God does not have our best interests at heart, we try to control things. Then, he concludes the chapter with some reflections and says, “Consider that apart from God’s presence and grace, your soul is lost and ruined.” He then asks us to consider what happens when God is not in control of your life and when he is not in control.
Three questions for reflection come out of this
What happens when I am in control of my
What happens when God is in control of my thought
What can I do to allow God to be in control in my life?
Maybe I will share my answers later in the week.