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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Microscopes...Telescopes...Disciples

I've been listening to the messages from the New Attitude Conference last week (free audio here). Piper spoke "Discern What Pleases God: Himself."

Microscopes

The function of a microscope is to make small things look bigger. We zoom into them so that we can see greater detail, the things our naked eye can't observe.

While most believers understand that we should glorify God in all we do, some struggle with the concept that God created us for His glory. Though they believe God is self-sufficient (the I AM), they also believe we actually create a needed function for Him. He needed to make us to show His wisdom, to increase His glory, or most popular... to exercise His love. However, He already shared perfect love within the Trinity. We are told we are created for His glory, but this does not mean we increase or provide glory...it simply means we glorify Him.

Telescopes

The function of telescopes is to make gigantic things that are distant look bigger. We zoom into them so that we can see greater detail, the things our naked eye can't observe.

God is glorious. Our function is to present that glory to the world as well. We do not make Him more glorious, we reveal His glory to a dying world.
We don't make God look good.

I've used the phrase too. It's quick. It's memorable. It borrows after different marketing slogans.

But it's also sloppy. We need to be careful of what people understand by "make" and can't assume they conceive the difference between telescopes and microscopes. A microscope makes the image larger than the object. A telescope, though it makes the image larger than it once appeared, the image is still considerably smaller than the object. Any glory God receives through us is considerably diminished from His actual glory.

In our "man-centered" culture (especially within the church) it is critical that we present our ministries and our people as telescopes, not microscopes.

6 Comments:

  • At 11:14 PM, Blogger Dale Harris said…

    I would say there is one sense in which God 'needed' humanity to magnify his own glory. I'll start by saying that God perfectly demonstrated love, harmony and relationship amongst the Trinity. However, the Trinity had no need to exercise grace, because as one unified sinless person, the Trinity would never have offended another member of the Godhead. So then, by creating us, God was able to show himself to be a forgiving, gracious being as he remedied our self-inflicted suffering. And without a messed up human race, he never would have had an object on which to bestow that virtue.

     
  • At 5:04 AM, Blogger danny2 said…

    Did God need humanity?

    Hardly.

    It's important to remember we were not the first which fell. instead, satan and a host of angels betrayed God and were cast out. however, God did not see fit to offer redemption to these angels. He also did not panic that His merciful glory must be immediately revealed.

    Does God need you (or me), specifically?

    Hardly.

    Romans 9 reminds us that His mercy is revealed to His elect through the rejection of the gospel by those destined to wrath. if God saw fit to not save another individual, His glory is still abundantly revealed.

    Is God glorified through us?

    Absolutely.

    In fact, it is most glorious to realize you were not created to meet a need of God's. God, in His supreme love and grace created us and allows us to participate in the revealing of His glory!

    It is important that the church (and especially preachers) present God of having no need for us, nor was redemption a response to the actions of man. All of this was by His divine, sovereign choosing.

    but people won't like to hear that. in our era of self-esteem and ego-centricism, people want to hear about how necessary they are to God. (we'll even sing lyrics like "you took the fall, and thought of me, above all" and not even bat an eye. was Christ really thinking of us above all?

    i think it's important that we preach that God does not, nor has He ever needed us. of course, to do that means we preach clearly, and not in a way that requires the use quotation marks around needed so that we can somewhat scratch their itch. i assume the quotation marks are necessary to say, "not needed in the literal, formal sense, but there is an element that almost appears as need." we are not clearing the air for people by emphasizing how close to a need it can appear to us. we must let the Word of God be that sharp sword and instead draw the clear distinction between the two. adapting the word "needed" to mean something close but not quite does not do any listener any favors.

     
  • At 9:56 AM, Blogger Keith said…

    This is a superb illustration - in fact I have used it many times, as I know others have. It is not original with Piper. I first got the idea from Jonathan Edwards, and I don't thimk it was original with him either. So use it all you want.

    As for grace, grace is sovereign not need-based. Grace is an eternal attribute of God, an aspect of God's essence. God has eternally been and acted out of grace. That the Trinity in past eternity was grace and applied grace even to one another is why grace was not needed - it was there. Creation was an act of grace. That we need grace, which is overwhelmingly true, is not what makes grace to be grace.

    Keith

     
  • At 10:03 AM, Blogger danny2 said…

    keith,

    you stated it much better than i. thank you!

    [sarcasm]but i can't imagine piper getting anything from edwards...[/sarcasm]

     
  • At 11:06 AM, Blogger Zach Doppelt said…

    I am not sure why we are like this, but these kinds of posts are always so much fun to comment on, maybe because they reveal all of the different theological systems and bents being represented. Either way, I agree with these conclusions. When I do err in my theology, I would rather err on the side of God's sovereignty, rather than giving fallen man too much credit.

     
  • At 10:22 AM, Blogger lyndie said…

    i like that you mentioned that song with the phrase "thought of me above all". i was actually singing that earlier this week and gave a second thought to that line and felt rather squeamish about it. in fact, that feeling had occurred before, many times, but i never really understood why fully, until recently. i'm very glad He doesn't NEED me, b/c i certainly would not be fulfilling as i am.
    it is tuuly freeing to be reliant on God's grace and to be confident that it is utterly sufficient to make me what He wants me to be.

     

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