I don’t know what you’re feeling as we begin this second week of the “new” year, but my “virtual” finger on America’s pulse causes me to offer an expert diagnosis, based on five decades of adult engagement: we’re in a funk, not a start (a state of depression). There’s no medication that will alleviate the underlying conditions, but there are insights which, if founded on solid reality, can mitigate the symptoms and restore your demeanor in a lasting way. It’s worth a few minutes of your time…
Buckle up: we’re going to explore some foundational truths that are beyond the grasp of most modern American Christians. You’re probably on-board with most of this already; if so, it will be a valuable refresher course. Or, some of this may be new perspective. Though it’s the starting point for everything else in life doesn’t mean that these concepts are universally understood and maximized.
In England – in the 1600s – there was concern over the lack of understanding within the congregations of the Christian church. Parliament asked for the formation of a Catechism – a summary of the principles that frame the faith, based on Scripture – to ensure that people claiming kinship with God through the Lord Jesus would have a core of concepts upon which they could rely. It was a start.
The Westminster Assembly worked for years on the task; the result was the Larger Westminster Catechism (used principally by the clergy) and the Shorter Westminster Catechism (which fit the bill with the common Christians).
The Shorter version consisted of 107 questions, to be posed by the instructor/pastor, and the student who had been inculcated with the answers would respond. Here is the lead-off question: “What is the chief end of man?” (That’s 1640-era verbiage; our contemporary question would be, “What’s the bottom-line of life?”)
The answer – then, as now – is succinct: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”
The biblical basis for that response is masterful in its wise simplicity: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Every moment of every day is included within that: every action taken in any context, must aggregate to result in God being glorified.
If you have time for a four-unit course in a seminary, you could enroll and explore what it means to “glorify God.” At its most basic level, let me try to compress the awesome assignment: it means that, as a result of everything we do, people will be able to get an accurate vision of who God is, and that revelation will make them respond with wonder and worship.
Sounds great. How do we do that? This week – and, for the next three – we’re going to see four steps of progression to enable that awesome process in real-life, in real-time.
Here’s Step #1 in glorifying God: I must make myself worthy of His Calling.
Hear Paul’s challenge: “We constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12). How could they bring glory to the Lord Jesus? They had to make themselves worthy so that God could then – and, only then – elevate them into their Kingdom assignment.
In his first letter to these same believers, Paul’s start had made the expectation clear: “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life” (1 Thessalonians 4:7). The potential for holiness arrived with the gift of the indwelling Spirit of God, at the moment of salvation. But, the realization of holiness requires personal discipline and consistent obedience, resulting in the transformation from what we were before faith to become people whose holiness – the family resemblance to the Father – is now apparent.
There’s Step #1; it’s the starting point. To glorify God requires progress toward holiness.
You might want to join Noah and me on Wednesday morning (see the link) to talk about this further. It might be worth 15 minutes, to be clearer about keeping the bottom-line in view. If you can’t make it at 7:00a (Pacific) when it goes “live,” you can still go to the site and listen later…
More to come!