Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! (Psalm 67:3)
The world is starving for real glory. It comes with the kit of being human. For better or worse, everyone, without exception, has their own idea of what glory looks like. And thus no one is without their own fill-in-the-blank to the statement, “If I could just _______.” The evidence of our intrinsic longing for bonafide glory is etched in the reality that we can’t not fill in that doggone blank. There’s always something to want, something to desire, something to daydream about, revealing that, beneath the pretense of our outward ambitions concerning the good life, we crave something we lost long ago. Something essential to our humanness. Something God-sized and eternal, which we have traded for its counterfeit. Something of which our professed aspirations are, in the end, merely a whisper.
It’s no wonder, then, that the Scriptures are saturated with the very thing we can’t seem to get enough of. God’s glory–the glory we all seek whether we know it or not–is all over the pages of the Bible, staring up at us and refusing to apologize for being there. And the more we are exposed to it, the more our hearts, with all their worldly sensibilities, are unsettled by it. In fact, this is His strategy for ruining us to the status quo and orienting our lives toward His global purpose to unite all things in Christ (Eph. 1:10). No bones about it, God’s agenda is to create missionary impulse at the deepest level of the human heart. And He does it by putting His glory in plain sight to fan the flames of true worship among the nations.
The Chief End of Man
While people drive themselves mad trying to self-diagnose a glory deficiency that we can’t even begin to comprehend, Psalm 67 gets straight to the point. It locates us in the Story of “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). You see, the human race was made to know and be known by the triune God, to participate in the glory-sharing life of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Or as the historic Westminster Confession puts it, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” That’s real talk, putting us in touch with what it means to be fully human–namely that we were made to worship God.
But due to Adam’s rebellion, our worship has run amuck. We’ve lost our capacity for human flourishing. We’re out of control and there’s a partially-eaten piece of fruit to prove it (cf. Gen. 3). Thus, being dead in our trespasses and sins (cf. Eph. 2:1), we can’t help but fall for the un-keepable promises of money, sex, power, and anything else we can abuse for our own glory-thievery. And this goes as far back as anyone can remember.
Yet, out of the abundance of His kindness, God has done all that is necessary to restore us to our chief end. And He does it in Christ alone. The love of God in Christ gently exposes all our attempts at self-salvation. Yes, it’s painful, but it’s also liberating. Why? Because we finally come to grips with the fact that our me-centered, fig-leaf kingdoms are a sham and we stop hiding behind them. And as we drop our pretense long enough to see Jesus for all He is, our hearts come alive to the sheer enjoyment of worshiping Him. That’s the power of a new creation. It’s the risen Christ waking us up from the nightmare we’ve been living in all along but didn’t even know it. He turns our Pottersville back into Bedford Falls. And we can’t help but praise Him for it.
Praise as Appointed Consummation
The chief end of man, however, is not just a me-and-Jesus enterprise. Far from it. Our enjoyment of God must never be hoarded. Rather, it must be shared in all directions. C.S. Lewis wisely explains this principle: “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation … delight is incomplete till it is expressed.” Let’s be sure not to miss that. Enjoyment isn’t really enjoyment unless we’re letting others in on it. Unshared joy is phony joy. By contrast, the real thing always touches the lives of others. And if Psalm 67 lands on us as it ought, this reality should be displayed in the church to the degree that the chief end of man is no longer non-ignorable among the nations.
Appointed consummation makes great missionaries precisely because it puts true worship in its rightful place as the fuel and goal of missionary impulse. Its longings cannot be satisfied by mere counterfeit glories. It refuses to settle for anything less than the real deal. And it knows it has found it when the praises of Jesus issue from the lips of those who were once far from Him but have caught a glimpse of His glory in the Gospel. Real worship will lay everything on the line to see that happen. Therefore, the church has been appointed to go and spread its praise of Christ far and wide, joyfully stewarding each and every moment of life to make known this “Good News of great joy that is for all the people” (Luke 2:10).
So let us come to church this Lord’s Day with our eyes fixed on Christ and our hearts yearning to see His glory displayed among all the peoples of the earth. For the church, Sunday is a weekly apex of appointed consummation. It keeps our worship from going off the rails. When people from all walks of life gather to behold God’s glory, it re-aligns our ingrown hearts with our chief end as it pertains to God’s global purpose. Our tunnel vision is interrupted by the endless wonders of the Gospel, enabling us to see that this thing is much bigger than anything we could have ever imagined. Indeed, God wants to give us a missionary impulse as we gather this week. The only question left to ask is, do we desire His glory enough to fully receive it?
Liturgy for Sunday, May 10, 2015:
Call to Worship:
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!” (Psalm 96:7-10a)
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
Follow the Spotify playlist for this Sunday.