Thursday, March 19, 2009

All Glory to God?

One of my favorite verses in all of the Bible is, "not to us, not to us, but to Your name be the Glory because of Your great love". I love this verse because it really emphasizes a desire for the attention to be removed from the individual and it places the attention on God. Many Christians appreciate this type of thinking and attitude but I have found that those same Christians (Myself included at times) criticize other Christians and churches for not "giving glory to God". As I recently pondered the statement, "We give all glory to God", I had to back off of any criticisms of others Christians or churches because I found it difficult to find a good measure for what it looks like to give glory to God.

Biblically speaking, giving glory to God is living out His character in this life... (Reflecting His image). This means anytime we do the things God calls us to do or follow the example Jesus left for us, we give glory to God. Reaching the lost, loving the orphans and widows, caring for the poor, and giving grace to the privileged are all qualities that Jesus demonstrated in his life. It stands to reason that when churches do these things, they are giving glory to God even if they don't express it in words.

I know people like Joel Olsteen, Rick Warren, Robert Shuller, and Mother Theressa get criticized for being "all about themselves" (okay maybe not Mother Theressa but I wanted to make sure you were paying attention). I find it difficult to believe that any of these people would actually say that they are doing the things they do for themselves. In fact, I am sure that each of them would say they believe all they do is for the kingdom of God. Since they all have seen hundreds of lives changed for the better because of their teachings, their prayers, and their service, how could we ever say that they are not giving all glory to God?

This is just a thought. I would love to hear any ideas on this matter.


Scott said...

I think it is important to remember that God will be glorified through all things. After all, he was glorified through the most horrific act of mankind; the crucifixion of his Son. So with that I think it really comes down to intent. Are we purposefully glorifying God in our lives? I would argue that the nonbeliever cannot purposefully glorify God, no matter how great their deeds might seem, simply because they do not have faith. (And without faith it is impossible to please him... Heb.11:6)

In regards to the people you mentioned, I agree that they would probably not say they are doing things for themselves. (Clearly people can say and do two different things, but I will leave that one alone for now.) However, is it possible that they have great intentions to glorify God, but they are doing it in the wrong way? Or perhaps, that what they think they are doing is really helping people, but in reality it is just confirming people in their own sin?

Of the three you mentioned Rick Warren is really the person that I have the least amount of issue with. Yes, I disagree with a lot of his pragmatism and yes, I believe that sound doctrine and theology need to be taught to the church. But, I have no doubt that he is a believer and that if you were to ask him personally about the Gospel, you would get a sound answer. I am not so sure with the other ones. I truly believe that they proclaim a false gospel; both health and wealth and self esteem. Can God be glorified through a false gospel? Of course! But, a false gospel cannot glorify God purposefully.

Anonymous said...

"whether with selfish motives or not Christ is preached" Acts of the Apsostles

Can we be Glorify God in simple and mundane things too? I think so. I think the closer we are to Christ the more human we actually become, since He is the truest and the pinnacle of humanity, which makes me think that even in the mundane(ie: grocery shopping, paying bills, planting a garden, even enjoying that garden) we can and should be Glorifying God. We could even bring Him Glory through our enjoyment, like walks on the beach, enjoying loved ones presence and seeing His beauty all around. I think sometimes we all over-complicate it. The Faith of a child doesn't sound complicated nor does Jesus saying "Come to burden is light" I'll stick close to that and in doing so hope that it's exactly where I need to be to bring all Glory to God

markchop said...

I think that if we aren't living as close to the source of the Light of Life we will be misguided and think that we are the source of Grace for all humanity. That pride can get us in real trouble. The idea of Giving "all glory to God" is when we live as He did in constant connection to The Father will inspire others to give glory to God too. It seems that the best way to give all Glory to God is to admit it's all in His Hands anyhow and to live as if it's true...since it is :-)

As far as those people you mentioned who knows what they'd answer if you talked to them behind closed doors ans tried for an honest answer about why they do what they do an for who's glory they are i'll leave it between them and God. I'll also take what they say with a grain a salt and check it up against scripture and see what fruit they bear IE; Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness and Self do the same for myself. They are just like me, just men in the sight of God.

Ryan said...

Scott, I love that all creation proclaims the glory of God. Ps 19. and one way or another, God will receive His praise and His honor.

Anonymous- I agree that taking time to enjoy the little things is a way to honor God by recognizing his glory.

Mark- Yes. The most difficult thing of all is knowing whether someone is walking in connection with the Spirit. Some say they are and are likely not and others may appear to be doing things for themselves but are completely in tune with the Spirt and giving all "glory" to God.

I guess we just have to worry about how we live.

Scott said...

Just came across this today, and I thought it ties into our discussion. I will reiterate that there are many things about Rick Warren that I respect, but it is things like this that make me scratch my head sometimes.

Ryan said...

Scott- Maybe it is an April Fool's email.

Scott said...

I honestly hope so!