Making God Look Good
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