Here is the theological bit from Sunday morning. I was trying to show why lost people still matter to God when it’s a;; about God and his glory. So here goes:
I want to show you that: “Lost people matter more when lost people don’t matter most.” And I want you to see that: “God’s desire is that all peoples would see and acknowledge and enjoy his glory”
Let me begin by asking you a question. What do you suppose Jesus meant when he taught his disciples to pray and taught them to begin “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Mat 6:9)
That expression “Hallowed be thy name.” What does it mean? Some of you may have been taught that a good pattern for prayer is A.C.T.S. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. I’ve never ben sure about that pattern, and have always thought that the Lord’s prayer was a better model. But here is my point. I think when Jesus taught his disciples to pray “Hallowed be thy name” he meant more than simply saying that their prayers should begin with praise for God. If Jesus had meant that wouldn’t it have been simpler to tell his disciples to pray. “I praise you name.” or “I hallow your name.”
Jesus is telling his disciples to pray something much bigger that personal praise as they begin their prayers. He is telling them to begin their prayers by expressing the desire that God’s name would be praised everywhere and by every one. It means something like: “Would your name be praised”
R. T. France in his commentary says this expresses a desire that “God would be truly honored in the world today, and an eschatological longing for the day when all men acknowledge God as the Lord.” [Tyndale, p134]
So Jesus told his disciples to pray that all peoples would see and acknowledge and enjoy God’s glory every time they prayed.
And you see this desire of God that people everywhere see his glory, acknowledge his glory, love his glory and enjoy his glory, is something that you see right through the Bible. I want to take a few moments just to take you through and help you to see just how big a theme this is.
Turn first with me to the book of 1 Chronicles 16. Here David returns the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem and sets it up as the centerpiece of Israel’s worship. This is what he prays: verse 8, 23-36. Just look at that desire that God would be praised across all the families of the nations. When you think about what is going on here it’s the more remarkable. Here is a religious new start for God’s chosen people, but here is no inward looking holy huddle. The desire is that God would be worshipped across the globe.
Let’s me show you this desire in the Psalms. This is Israel’s hymn book and it is full of this desire that God’s glory be seen in the world. Here we see how worship becomes mission
Psalm 72:18-19. This is David’s last Psalm (v20) His last words in a psalm are a prayer for the earth to be filled with God’s glory.
And then in the prophets:
Lets take just one more passage. This time from the New Testament.
Here is what we see. True worship becomes enthralled with the God who is most glorious in such a way that it longs that all peoples would see and acknowledge and enjoy his glory. And therefore Lost people matter more when God matters most.
So that’s what I wanted us to see. Now I have one more thing to say before I go on to the call for a response.
I think people struggle with the idea of a God who says “Praise me.” And I’ve used a number of illustrations to try and explain why God’s seeking his own glory is the most loving thing he can do for me. I know this is hard, but I believe it’s worth persevering with.
So here is another way to think about this. I want you to imagine that we are all going on a church trip this morning after the service. And we go down into the old “Bath Stone” mine workings under the town. Now there is one word that comes to mind in terms of describing them, for those who haven’t been, and that is “dark.” The words “wet” and “cold” come to mind also but for the sake of argument let’s remember that it is dark down there!
Now I don’t know how we did it, but somehow we all got down there – away from the entrance but we only had the one torch between us. Would it be selfish or unloving of me to look after the torch? Would you want me to look after the torch? Would it be unloving for me to hold up the torch so that as much light as possible lit up the caves as far as possible? Would you be foolish to cover your eyes and turn away from the light?
In a world of darkness the it is good and right that the glory of God shine bright and it is his most loving action to desire that his light shine and that his light be seen and that his light be enjoyed by as many as possible.
It’s the passion for God’s glory to be seen, and acknowledged and enjoyed that will get us out of our seats and comfort zones and doing what it takes to make the glory of Jesus, God’s glory in the gospel seen
An after thought:
It seems to me that most mission we hear about today is anthropocentric. What I mean is that it is done for people’s sake because lost people matter.
I’m not sure that’s wrong, but I reckon that not much mission today has theocentric motives. That is mission that happens out of a desire to spread the glory of God’s name. Last week I read about David Livingstone’s motivation for going to the mission field. He went that those to whom he went would glorify God – only wish I could find where I read it!