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5

Making God Look Good
Posted by Clare
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If you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, instead consider a New Life’s Resolution. Make it the purpose of your life to make God look good.

Years ago I signed up for a seminar on writing a personal mission statement. You know, those short paragraphs where you to try to summarize everything you want and God wants your life to be about. I found it tough trying to cram into three or four run-on sentences a lifetime of dreams for myself.

Then a friend introduced me to a phrase he’d heard Pastor John Piper use which captured perfectly the essence of God’s highest aspirations for me and mine for him. In an instant I knew it would become my new mission statement. (And I hope yours as well.)

The purpose of my life is to make God look good.

We were created for the glory of God

“Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6b-7

“What is the chief end (or purpose) of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever”. Westminster Catechism

When I first heard we were created for the glory of God, I thought that was incredibly narcissistic of him. Do you mean to say, that we and the world were created just to be his newest play things? But, that’s not the kind of thing you can say out loud in good Christian company, so I just kept my mouth shut. The good news is that nothing could be further from the truth.

Christians believe God created this world and mankind to be a physical extension of heaven – a form of heaven on earth. The majesty of this world and the universe are a testimony to the existence of a creator and of the glory of God! In this new realm, God created a new species, humans, who like his angels in heaven, would care for this new creation. In heaven, angels aren’t God’s play things. Contrary to the depiction of angels painted on cathedral ceilings, angels have work to do, besides playing harps and singing. They work with God and for God, under his direction, and as such are an extension of his glory. The same is true of us.

So, when I talk about making God look good, I don’t want you to get the impression that God needs me, or anyone to be his public relations agent. This is not about managing his public image to be able to sell more people on becoming Christians.

Finally, God doesn’t need me to make him good, as if he’s not. He spoke this planet and the universe into existence, and he’s sovereign God of everything. So, if we were the only living thing in the universe he would still have his glory. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1

So, when we sing or talk about bringing God glory or “giving him all the glory”, how does that actually work in real life? The phrase making God look good, is simply a more contemporary way of capturing the essence of giving God the glory.

Jesus’ stand-ins on earth

The first and highest way we make God look good, other than personal and corporate prayer and worship, is to obey God. Moving through life with the mindset that you represent Jesus to your sub-kingdom. In The 10-Second Rule I wrote this:

That’s why you’re not “just a Christian,” or just a member of First Baptist or Lincoln Assembly of God. As a member of God’s family, your mission in life is to be Jesus’ stand-in. That means he expects you to behave like him – as if he lived in your house, raised your children, saw the same strangers and needy people you see, and hung out with your friends.

When Jesus instructed his disciples to pray “May your kingdom come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” it wasn’t just wishful thinking on Jesus’ part about his future kingdom. He actually expects his followers, his brothers and sisters, to bring the kingdom to earth – that is, to act on his behalf in your world – the sub-kingdom Jesus has entrusted to you.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Asking the Holy Spirit for guidance daily

A friend of mine put me onto this idea as she began listening to God more intently for direction: before she leaves home each day, she prays through her schedule. She visualizes herself leaving her apartment, entering her workplace, going to lunch, all the appointments of the day – everything she can think of until she goes to bed.

Imagine the people you expect to meet today. Do you have a meeting that might become difficult, maybe with an ex, or your boss, or a controlling parent, or a demanding customer? In the past, these emotional meetings may have triggered some very un-Christlike thoughts. But today, before you even leave the house, think through how Jesus would respond in these situations. Make any pre-decisions necessary to ensure that your actions and words will be more Christlike today. Pray that he’ll soften your heart and prepare you to be Jesus in their presence.

Also, ask the Holy Spirit to give you “spiritual radar” for people on the fringe of your life. Envision, as you pray, the parent who stands alone at soccer practice, the people who eat by themselves at work or school, the barista at the coffee shop, the custodian at your children’s school – people who may need a compliment or an encouraging word from God through you. You represent Jesus to your world.

Robbing God of his glory

When you and I declared ourselves to be followers of Jesus, Gods’ reputation, identity and even some of his glory became attached to ours and ours to him. God is our Father, Jesus is our elder brother and as children of God one of our obligations in life is to guard the name and honor of our spiritual family. We have the choice every day to either enhance Gods’ reputation (give him more glory), or detract from it by how we live. It’s a sacred trust.

Call me old fashioned, but I expect our children and now grandchildren to behave in public, especially in restaurants. It’s probably a pride thing but their behavior is a reflection on me. When they misbehave it feels like every eye in the place is on me. “What kind of parents must those kids have?” I think God has similar thoughts.

I’d like to think nobody gets up in the morning thinking they’re going to make God look bad. But, effortlessly it can happen just the same. I know I’ve done it. If I’m not careful I can make God look angry, loving, crude, kind, generous, hard-hearted, foolish or irrelevant – all in the same day!

“If Christianity were true, it would produce better people.” (quoted from Monvee.com)

There’s a circle of people at the periphery of our world watching us – our co-workers, the person who prepares our taxes, the waitress at our favorite Sunday brunch restaurant and the service manager at the dealership. They see Bibles on our desks on the seat of our car, or overhear our conversations enough to label us as Christians. What must they think about God when we complain about the service, whine about our boss, or are stingy with our tips?

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” I Peter 2:12

It’s scary to think that for better or worse, our fellow Christian friends and family are also learning about God from watching us. Does your life inspire them to love God and others more (bring him glory), or have you robbed him of his glory this week?

So in this New Year, I’d urge you to seriously consider Making God Look Good the mission of your life. He and you will be glad you did!

Question: How else might we rob God of his glory?

On Wednesday, I’m planning to re-post a blog I wrote last year, Twelve Questions Every Thoughtful Christian Should Ask Themselves Annually. (I’ll probably do it every year. We’re slow learners.)

Following Jesus in Real Life

 

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Comments (5)
Comments
  1. Mike Holton said...

    Thank you for sharing the daily guidance idea…this made a connection for me. I would like to have all thoughts and reactions go through Christ, first…to “practice His presence.” Unfortunately, as I reflect on a day, it seems I was on something like “autopilot” more than I would like, so I know there are instances of behavior that fall short of being a “stand-in.” As I think about your question of how else we rob God of glory, everything that comes to mind seems to have the “self” at the center. Impressions that make it about “us” in the eyes of others, murmuring and grumbling and not recognizing the grace shared with us, dominating vs. sharing, not expressing feelings-denial and blocking things out all come to mind. I would appreciate any ideas or suggestions regarding how to more continually and consistently submit all thoughts and reactions to Christ first, that you or anyone else has. Blessings to you and yours and all of you sharing in Clare’s “blogs,” for the coming New Year.

    Reply
    • Clare said...

      Thanks for you thoughts and your question. Submitting ourselves to Christ is a life-long job and hopefully nearly every blog will offer some new ideas on how to do that. But the best way I know how is to read and meditate on scripture. The book of James says that when we do, it’s like looking into a mirror. It helps us to remember both who we are in our sinfulness, as well as who we are as children of God.

      Reply
  2. Dwight said...

    Clare,

    One of the ways that I rob God of his glory is by not taking his command seriously to go and make disciples. In order to ‘go and make’ them, I first have to be discipled. Religious activity and sin management creep into my daily routine. Like Martha, I’m busy doing and not like Mary, being at the feet of Jesus.
    I want enough of Jesus to save me, but not enough to change me from the inside out. I know that I’m called to speak truth in love but damage God’s reputation by speaking one or the other.
    The Barna research group released an interesting study years ago in which they found, among other facts, that few people attend churches that push them to grow. I find this true in most churches that I’ve attended. We want the nice message and ‘come and go as you please’ culture. It’s not spoken that way of course but it is communicated by what is tolerated. We want to go where we feel relevant and necessary and yet, I would support that Jesus was irrelevant and unncessary in his culture. When we have leaders giving up the gods (attendance, budgets, significance, etc..), we’ll have followers doing more of the same.
    Bottom line, God wired us all the same. We were designed to grow and learn and make a contribution.
    One of the best ways I have found to make God look good is to enroll in a band of brothers (no more than 4) who are willing to risk being known and pushed to be more like Jesus. We tell each other what we need to hear twice a month, not what we want to hear. More than a church service or any other church venue, we are transformed and pushed to be like Jesus. As we all like to say, the spiritual journey is much more enjoyable in a circle than in a row.

    Happy New Year!

    Dwight

    Reply
    • Clare said...

      Very well said! Thank you Dwight.

      Reply
  3. Amy Liu said...

    I would Share this article with my Christian Friends. Thanks! God Bless!!!

    Reply
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