Questioning the Character of God

12:18 PM

Last night, I had a terrible dream...truly scary and when I woke up, I was thankful to be alive. I immediately started praying...but I was having a hard time concentrating. As I fumbled over my words, I became frustrated. For some strange reason, in that moment, all I could think about was a quote that one of my dear friends posted on Facebook the other day. "I cannot believe in a God that wants to be worshiped all the time." Why? Why was that all I could think of at that time, after a dream that nearly ended with me dead?

For those of you who don't have the YouVersion bible app, it is very useful. I am currently reading a plan called "Experience 14 Days of Fresh Air" and, wouldn't you know it, today's reading was entitled "Get a Fresh Perspective on Worship." Dumbfounded, I started to read. The first part caught my attention:

Recently, I was reading in my home office when my son Jonathan came in. He's sixteen and tall - over six feet - and strong. I looked up and smiled and said, "Hey buddy, what do you need?" He looked back at me and said, "Nothing. I just thought I'd hand out with you a little while. I was just thinking about you, Dad." 

Talk about making an old dad feel mushy inside! How cool is that? My teenage son was thinking about me and just wanted to come and be with me with no real agenda. The message I received is that he loves me. He didn't want anything from me at that time other than to be with me. The Lord revealed something to me during that time with Jonathan. God whispered to me, "Chris, this is worship. And I like it when you just want to be near me."

This intrigued me...okay, cool, God. You like when I think of you. 

But isn't it sort that you desire praise when the rest of us are taught to not be so prideful? I needed more. That quote from my friend still got to me. I had been thinking about it ever since I saw it...but never this intensely, never with this much earnest and desire for an answer. So, I took my research to the internet.

I found this amazing podcast called "Is God for Us or for Himself?" It began with this:

I would like to try to persuade you that the chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself forever. Or to put it another way: the chief end of God is to enjoy glorifying himself.

Instantly, I was pretty hooked. I really encourage you to read it for yourself, whether you're a Christian, like me, who feels free enough to question yourself and your beliefs to gain a deeper understanding, or if you're a non-Christian, seeking to understand the character of God. I want to make sure that I stress this is not to convert you. That's not my goal. I respect the beliefs and opinions of others. God never forces you to believe in him, that's not biblical. Why should I, as a Christian, do anything aside from that? 

But, I digress. Why does God desire our praise? I'm going to share with you the end of this podcast. Again, I do hope that you read the entire podcast, it really does put things into perspective. But this part helped me the most.

But the great discovery I made, with the help of C.S. Lewis, was not only that we praise what we enjoy but that the praise is the climax of the joy itself. It is not tacked on later; it is part of the pleasure. Listen to the way Lewis describes this insight from his book on Psalms:
But the most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or anything —strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game—praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians and scholars. My whole, more general difficulty, about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't help doing, about everything else we value.
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are, the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. (Reflections on the Psalms, pp. 93–95)
There's the key: we praise what we enjoy because the delight is incomplete until it is expressed in praise. If we were not allowed to speak of what we value and celebrate what we love and praise what we admire, our joy would not be full. Therefore, if God is truly for us, if he would give us the best and make our joy full, he must make it his aim to win our praise for himself. Not because he needs to shore up some weakness in himself or compensate for some deficiency, but because he loves us and seeks the fullness of our joy that can only be found in knowing and praising him, the most beautiful of all beings.
God is the one Being in all the universe for whom seeking his own praise is the ultimately loving act. For him self-exaltation is the highest virtue. When he does all things "for the praise of his glory" as Ephesians 1 says, he preserves for us and offers to us the only thing in all the world which can satisfy our longings. God is for us, and therefore has been, is now, and always will be, for himself. Praise the Lord! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

God bless you, friends! And Happy New Year! 

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