Posts Tagged ‘God’s glory’

WiW: They Don’t Learn…

December 6th, 2010

The Week in Words

I’m a teacher, less than two weeks away from ending my career as a graduate teaching assistant.

I love teaching.

I love explaining things to students, helping people understand something better than they did before.

I love showing students how to do something, seeing them glow with a sense of accomplishment.

I’ve been teaching about food. And I love teaching about food.

Because I love food.

I get excited about cooking, about food, about how food fits into people’s lives.

My students can’t help but feel my excitement for food.

Which is why Don Carson’s quote sobers me.

“If I have learned anything in 35 or 40 years of teaching, it is that students don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again…”
~Don Carson (via Justin Taylor)

What are the things I get excited about?

What are the things I emphasize again and again and again and again?

Are they the things I want to be emphasizing over and over and over again?

Carson says what should be emphasized over and over again:

“…What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again. That had better be the gospel.
~Don Carson (via Justin Taylor)

I am challenged as I read these words. What is the refrain of my life’s work? If someone were to interview a dozen of my students and ask them what they learned from me, what my life message is, what would they say?

Would they say that I lived for food?

Or would they say that I lived for God, glorying in the gospel and savoring the sweetness of Christ?

I fear too often they would say the former–but my heart’s desire and my prayer is that the latter would be true.

Collect more quotes from throughout the week with Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words”.

God’s passion for His glory (Part 2)

September 6th, 2010

At the end of last week, I posed the question:

Is God primarily passionate for Himself, or for people? Is the idea that God is passionate for His own glory contradictory with the idea that God is love?

This week, I’ll share the conclusions I’ve drawn about the subject.

First, comparing God’s purpose to man’s purpose, as Piper does when he states

“The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever.”

is invalid. Man’s purpose is to glorify God, whether man consciously decides to do so or not. This is because man is a created being–and the purpose for which he was created was (at least in part) God’s glory (“Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Gen 1:26). God, on the other hand, is not a created being. He has no “purpose” for existing. Rather, He exists because He exists, because He is. The question then, when referring to God’s purpose, is not about God’s purpose in existing, but His purpose in acting.

Now, to a certain degree, God’s existence is explanation enough for His actions. When questioning any of God’s purposes of acting in a particular way, a perfectly appropriate answer is “He acted in this way because this way of acting is consistent with His nature.” In other words, God does what He does because “that’s just the way He is.”

God demonstrates mercy because He is merciful. He exercises justice because He is just. He displays His glory because He is glorious.

Perhaps the idea of God being passionate for His own glory is merely another way of saying “God’s purpose is to be Himself–that is, to be gloriously Himself.”

But Piper’s thesis–and I daresay Scripture itself–would suggest that God’s passion for His own glory is not merely a way of saying “When God acts in accordance with who He is, the result is God’s glory–therefore, God is passionate about His own glory.” No, it seems that Piper, and Scripture, would say that this is indeed a driving passion that influences God’s activity. It implies that just as I read out of a passion for learning, God acts out of a passion for being glorified.

Which brings us right back to the initial problem of God being self-seeking.

But what if God, though one in deity, were three in person? What if God were triune (which He is, indeed)–and each member of the Trinity were passionate not for His own glory, but for the glory of each other member of the Trinity? What if the Father’s supreme end was to glorify and delight in the Son and the Spirit? What if the Son’s supreme end was to glorify and delight in the Father and the Spirit? What if the Spirit’s supreme end was to glorify and delight in the Father and the Son?

If that were so, then God’s “self-love” would not be self-seeking. The paradox would be resolved. God could be both love and passionately God-centered.

And I think this idea has Scriptural support.

In John 8:49-50, Jesus states that He does not seek His own glory, but that He honors His Father. John 16:14 states that the Spirit glorifies the Son. In John 17, Jesus prays that the Father would glorify Him (the Son) so that He (the Son) might glorify the Father. In Hebrews 5:5, we read that Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but that God the Father “promoted” Him to that position.

God can be at once both gloriously God-centered and gloriously un-self-centered. For each member of the Trinity submits to the others’ will, and each wills the others’ glorification–with the end that God glorifies God and enjoys Himself forever.

(This is a reflection on the first chapter of John Piper’s Desiring God. For more reflections on Desiring God, see my notes here.)

God’s passion for His glory (Part 1)

September 3rd, 2010

God is uppermost in His own affections, John Piper would say. God’s supreme and driving passion is for His own glory.

It’s perhaps the most provocative and uncomfortable of all of Piper’s statements.

It’s been the source of a dozen heated discussions between myself, my sister, and my dad. Anna and I take Piper’s side; Dad argues that Piper can’t be right. God is love (I John 4:8,16) and love does not seek its own (I Cor 13:5). Surely the whole of Scripture, the redemptive story reveals that we are uppermost in God’s affections, that God’s supreme and driving passion is for our redemption.

I don’t like to admit it to my dad, but I sympathize with his argument–an awful lot. (Believe it or not, even “perfect” homeschooled daughters like myself have difficulties admitting that they agree with their parents!)

I see Piper’s point and agree with it. God is certainly jealous for His own glory. It is certainly in man’s best interest that God be glorified rather than man. God’s glory is undoubtedly a major theme of Scripture.

But God is love. And love does not seek its own.

Piper’s response to this–that it is in man’s best interest that God be glorified rather than man–does not fully address this issue. Basically, it says that “love does not seek its own” except when we’re talking about God’s love. The rules are different for God because God’s self-seeking is for our best.

I don’t really buy that. The rules aren’t different for God–the rules exist because of who God is. Love isn’t self-seeking because God, from whom love is defined, is not self-seeking.

I’ve wrestled with this question on and off for years–and while I can’t claim to have come to a full understanding, I do feel that I have come to a position that I have some degree of peace about.

I’ll discuss my wrestlings, and the conclusion I’ve come to, a bit more next week–but first, I want to hear what you think about the topic. Is God primarily passionate for Himself, or for people? Is the idea that God is passionate for His own glory contradictory with the idea that God is love?

(This is a reflection on the first chapter of John Piper’s Desiring God. For more reflections on Desiring God, see my notes here.)

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