Five years ago, I began writing a second book entitled Making God Look Good. But, it didn’t feel Spirit-led, so I dropped it. But this is the Introduction from that book and to my Father’s Day blog next week, Making God Look Good.
I‘m willing to bet you and I have something in common.
Most of my days it feels like I’m secretly playing king of the mountain with Jesus.
The words King and Lord rolled off my tongue so effortlessly in worship, prayer, and with other Christians but in practice, in the simple everyday things of life I’ve often acted like I was a co-king at least. Of course I want his glory to be made known and his will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven” – and mine as well.
I truly do love God. I’m eternally grateful to him and want his friendship and wisdom. He’s my Savior and the Creator of the Universe, for heaven’s sake! I need him. So, I’d never actually think of knocking him off “my” mountain. I’d just prefer he stay on his side – close enough for me to call if needed. I preferred he was the one who stayed in the cleft – just out of eyesight, while I grazed fat on his grace. Based on my behavior, I must think there’s room enough at the top for both of us.
Now, tell me we have nothing in common.
If that’s true of you as well, why is it we’d even dare play this deadly game with God in the first place? (I’ll get to that later.)
And, we’re not only playing king of the mountain with God, but consciously or unconsciously, we’re doing it all day long with others as well.
And playing is a good word for it. William Shakespeare once wrote, “All the world’s a stage. And men and women, merely players…”
We’re all actors.
Every morning we wake up, put on our makeup and costumes and go out trying to convince the world we’re more spiritual, happy, together, and less scared than we know ourselves to be. And we hope like mad no one discovers we’re not.
We’re constantly, even if unconsciously competing with others, in our own families, churches, and even on the Internet for the lead roles. Is Facebook and Instagram the new stage? How many friends or followers do you have? We secretly long for the limelight, and the admiration that comes with it and all the while feigning humility. I know – some days I could win an Emmy.
There was a time when I wasn’t even ashamed of my ambition to be the central character in my play. I resonated instantly with Don Miller who wrote in Blue Like Jazz, “Life was a story about me because I was in every scene. In fact, I was the only one in every scene. If somebody walked into my scene, it would frustrate me because they were disrupting the general theme of the play, namely my comfort and glory.”
My wife, my family and friends were all incredibly dear to me. I truly loved them, but they served primarily as my audience and supporting actors. I had all the brilliant dialogue. All the clever lines.
Then Jesus showed up.
And, just like the scene in the temple when Jesus drove out the moneychangers, he drove me off stage, shut down the show and rewrote my part and the play re-opened under new management.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” II Cor. 5:17
I’ve lived in the joy of that stunning reality for close to thirty years now. When I first came to faith, it was almost an out-of-the body experience watching the Holy Spirit slowly transform the new Clare De Graaf out of the old, month after month. But, I had a surprise waiting for me as I matured spiritually. The “old man” kept showing up at my door like a former fraternity buddy who still can’t believe I drank the Jesus Kool-Aid, tempting me to go out with him and climb back on stage again. And I did. Too often.
Then a dozen years ago, I had a series of epiphanies that allowed me to see more clearly than ever before, the real purpose for my life – for every believer’s life, from a mile up – the big picture. It was transformational!
This blog centers around one of those epiphanies, a simple phrase I heard from Rev. John Piper, that has had a profound impact on my life whenever I’m tempted to climb on top of the mountain again, take center stage, or steal the scene from another.
The purpose of my life (and yours) is to make God look good. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt 5:16 (NKJV)
In The 10 Second Rule book which I wrote a few years back, my goal was helping Christians who’ve drifted spiritually to begin again taking simple steps of obedience by living by the Rule, which is, just do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do!
Making God Look Good takes a longer and loftier view. Next week’s blog fleshes out exactly what it means to live for and live out the glory and the will of God over a lifetime.
Anyone who calls themselves a Christian either lives a life that makes God look good, or makes him look bad. There’s no middle ground, because those in the middle make God look irrelevant.
And your friends, family and co-workers know better than you which one you are. I’ve written this book for those who dare find out the truth and are courageous enough to do something about it.
But, back to the imagery of our lives being a play. I accept that the Bible is the script for my life, but I’ve found that because of sin, I conveniently kept forgetting my lines and improvising my own story. The phrase, making God look good prompts me back on script as if the Holy Spirit himself were whispering them to me and encouraging me on.
Then, irony of ironies; when making him look good becomes the highest purpose for our life, he actually invites us unto his mountain and like modern-day Moses’ we get to view his glory and his kingdom from his perspective. Then, again like Moses, he sends us back down with his marching orders to serve his people and his kingdom, on his stage forever!
How following Jesus works in real life.
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