The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Must We Worship God Simply for Who He Is?

Posted on: April 04, 2017

GOD MUST BE GOOD IF HE IS TO BE WORTHY OF WORSHIP

There are those who, presumably out of good motives, say, “We must worship God simply for who He is.” Well, if you accept some assumptions to that statement, it is certainly true. But on the face of it, without any prior assumptions, one would have to say, “Oh, really?”

If we never got anything out of our relationship with God, nothing but – from our perspective – pain and suffering, it would be difficult to see how we should worship Him simply for who He is. Ultimately, God would have to be good in order to justify our worshiping Him.

So, it’s important to look at what Scripture says we get out of our relationship with God even when, from our limited and earth-centered perspective, it may seem at the moment as though we are getting nothing out of it.

It may be that we are entrenched in very bad circumstances that have no prospect of improving. Those circumstances might include physical pain, emotional pain, frustration with our inability to make life go as we want. We might be in an abusive or emotionally devastating marriage, or have children with medical needs that we cannot afford to treat.

We may be in spiritual crisis, feeling that God has failed us. I know of a woman who prayed that her child would grow up to be a Christian and did all the things that normally encourage that result. After he became a teenager and rejected God, the woman said quietly, “So much for the prayers of a mother!”

When we feel that we are getting nothing out of our relationship with God, we must get in touch with some very deep things.

To begin, we must come to grips with the mystery of why God allows evil. I have written on that subject in another blog, but the bottom line is that God did not exempt Himself from evil. In fact, His solution was to send His Son to die for us to break the chains of evil and to restore us to Himself.

No matter what I am suffering or have suffered, I would not trade my experience for Jesus’ experience… for living a punishing life, then being crucified and having the sin of the world placed on me. So, because God paid a terrible price to deliver us from evil, I have to believe that He is good and that when I get to heaven, I will understand and accept it all. So, on that theological level, we accept that God is good, in spite of our pain.

In the meantime, we must adjust our perspective of whether or not we are “getting anything good” out of our relationship with God. It is a limited perspective to think that we are ever in a place where we are getting nothing good out of our relationship with God.

Most of us are getting food, clothing and shelter. We have someone to love and someone to love us. We have the safety of holiness, the freedom of repentance and forgiveness, all the promises of Scripture, and the hope of heaven and glory.

We may take these blessings for granted, however, and when we do they become invisible. We begin to long for peace and prosperity. We tend to resent God for not giving us our desired share of blessings rather than being grateful for the wellspring of temporal, spiritual and eternal blessings that He has given us.

Yet, it is possible to rise above that perspective. We can choose to serve God because of the good things He has already done for us – saved us from the penalty of sin, and will do for us take us to heaven when we die and give us a glorious pain-free eternity with Him – trusting that in the end, it will all be worth it. In that sense, we can serve God simply for who He is.

In his book, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, Timothy Keller writes, 

When we are in unrelenting darkness, we have the greatest opportunity to triumph over the forces of evil. In the darkness we have a choice that is not there in better times.

What if then— when it does not seem to be paying or benefiting you at all— you continue to obey, pray to, and seek God, as well as continue to do your duties of love to others? If we do that— we are finally learning to love God for himself, and not for his earthly benefits. And when the darkness lifts or lessens, we will find that our dependence on other things besides God for our happiness has shrunk, and that we have new strength and contentment in God himself.

We’ll find a new fortitude, unflappability, poise, and peace in the face of difficulty. The coal is becoming diamond.  

Many believers have experienced this peace of God. It is not just positive thinking or willpower. It is a sense that no matter what happens, everything will ultimately be all right, even though it may not be at all right at the moment.” (Adapted, Kindle Location 3918-3925)

It is as Paul wrote in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be reveled to us.”

And as he also wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18,

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. For though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the thing which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

One of the great challenges, as well as opportunities, of the Christian life, is to cultivate, nurture, foster, develop and encourage an eternal perspective, viewing all things in this life through the lens of eternity.  To focus, not on the things that are seen, but on the things that are not seen.  This gives us resilience against the blows that life inevitably deals us, and opens to us a door of gratitude and hope.

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