For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
One of the most revolutionary ideas in the Bible is that in order to find out who you really are, you have to lose yourself in God’s glory. We were not made to find our worth in ourselves; God created us to be captivated by his glory and greatness. Every day we are tempted to find meaning in anyone or anything else, and when we do we are missing the point of our existence.
In his classic treatise The End for Which God Created the World, my friend Jonathan Edwards develops a long running analogy of God as a fountain (this is a biblical analogy, check out Jeremiah 2:11-13). His point is that God’s glory—the sum of all of his greatness and worth—flows out of him like streams from a fountain. The streams are not the fountain, but they flow out of the fountain.
He maintains that God is disposed to not only be glorious, but to communicate his glory. The streams, for Edwards, represent the communication of God’s character. But to whom will he communicate his glory? Enter the creation of humanity.
God created us to drink from the fountain. He created us to comprehend who he is… but that’s not all. Edwards posited that when we drink of the fountain, we also must affirm the goodness of the fountain. We know of God’s power, and see that it is good. We learn of God’s love, and we marvel at its goodness. We experience God’s grace, and we praise him for it.
In this sense God is glorified not only when we discern his greatness, but also when we value him supremely. When we marvel at God’s greatness, we return it back to him in worship. Edwards said it this way,
In the creature’s knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in, and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged; his fulness is received and returned.
To use another analogy, think of people as satellite dishes. We were made not only to receive communication from God, but to send back to him our response to his greatness in worship. We were designed to participate in an endless reciprocal loop of glory—beholding his glory and rejoicing in it.
This glory-loop is described by the apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12. There Paul prays that God will make us worthy of his calling, “so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you, and you by him…” Do you see it? God makes us worthy so that we will glorify Jesus’ name, and thus we also will be glorified by Jesus.
Because God is the source and recipient of praise, he is at the center of it all. This doesn’t rob us of value; on the contrary, it enhances it. For us to act and think as if we are the center of everything is not only ridiculous, it’s disingenuous. We know we’re not. But when we see and value God rightly, we are finally living as he created us to live. Edwards wrote,
So that the whole is of God, and in God, and to God; and he is the beginning, and the middle, and the end.