How Can We Really Get What It Means to Exist for the Praise of God’s Glory?
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth...
I've spent quite a bit of my life as a pastor interacting with younger people. Like most pastors, I started in youth ministry, as a junior high intern, an interim high school director, and a college director. Even when I was a senior pastor, I still prized the chance to be in relationship with the children and teenagers of the church. One of the things I have most enjoyed in my role as Senior Advisor and Theologian-in-Residence of Foundations for Laity Renewal (that's a mouthful!) is the chance to be involved in our fantastic summer camp for kids. The leaders of our camp even let me preach at their Sunday morning worship service, even though I was at least twenty years older than anyone in the congregation.
When I speak with young people, I'm acutely aware of how much my "Christianese" can fail to communicate with them. For example, if I were to say to a bunch of teenagers, "You exist for the praise of God's glory," a few of them might be enthused, but most would be unimpressed, even put off. Existing for the praise of God's glory sounds, well, so churchy, so religious. It sounds like we're all going to end up sitting on clouds in heaven, by ourselves for eternity, plucking golden harps and singing centuries' old dirges.
What might help young people understand that existing for the praise of God's glory makes life a great adventure? What might help those of us who haven't been young for a long time get excited about the truth of Ephesians 1:11?
I have a couple of thoughts. First, when we begin to live intentionally for God's glory, we discover new purpose and passion for living. Even the tasks that seem to lack inherent meaning can be transformed. I think, for example, of my friend Michelle. Her job is cleaning the guest rooms at Laity Lodge. Not long ago, she said, "When I think that I am cleaning toilets for the Lord, it changes everything." Indeed! So, partly, we need to help all people, both young and not-so-young, take the first steps of actually living for God's glory.
Second, we need examples. I was greatly encouraged by Michelle's statement, and I'm sure it will speak to many others as well. TheHighCalling.org, the online host of these Daily Reflections, has produced a number of outstanding videos that show people living out their daily work in praise to God. One of my favorites, called "Restoring Homes to Restore a Community," features a woman named Kimberly who works as a contractor as her way of serving God. Her example inspires me, and it might inspire you too, to see every bit of your life as a chance to exist for the praise of God's glory.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What helps you to see every facet of your life as a context in which to live for God's glory? Have certain people been especially inspirational to you in this way?
PRAYER: Gracious God, help me to grasp the truth that living for you is the greatest adventure of all. Break through my churchiness, my stodginess, my fears. Help me to learn to live for you in every moment of every day.
To you be all the glory, all of the time. Amen.