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echoes of thought in love with God through Christ crucified

Tag: God-centeredness

They who have true love to God love him so as wholly to devote themselves to God. This we are taught in the sum of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30). Here is contained in these words a description of a right love to God; and they teach us that they who love him aright do devote all to him, all their hearts, and all their souls, all their mind and all their strength, or all their powers and faculties. Surely, a man who gives all this wholly to God keeps nothing back, but devotes himself wholly and entirely to God. He who gives God all his heart, and all his soul, and all his mind, and all his powers or strength, keeps nothing back; there is no room for any reserve. All who have true love to God have a spirit thus to do. This shows how much a principle of true love to God is above a selfish principle. For if self be devoted wholly to God, then there is something above self which influences the man; there is something superior to self which takes self and makes an offering of it to God. A selfish principle never devotes self to another; the nature of it is to devote all others to self. They who have true love to God, love God as God, and as the supreme good; whereas the nature of selfishness is to set up self for God, to make an idol of self. That being which men respect as God, they devote all to. They who idolize self devote all to self, but they who love God as God devote all to him.

—Jonathan Edwards
Ethical Writings, WJE (Yale University Press, 1989), 264–265.

We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence or delightfulness; we despise still more the crowd of people round every dictator, every millionaire, every celebrity, who gratify that demand. Thus a picture, at once ludicrous and horrible, both of God and of His worshippers, threatened to appear in my mind. The Psalms were especially troublesome in this way—”Praise the Lord,” “O praise the Lord with me,” “Praise Him.” … It was extremely distressing. It made one think what one least wanted to think. Gratitude to God, reverence to Him, obedience to Him, I thought I could understand; not this perpetual eulogy. …

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 honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise

The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game—praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars.

I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least. … Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. …

I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?” The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. 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. …

To see what the doctrine really means, we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God—drunk with, drowned in, dissolved by, that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable, hence hardly tolerable, bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression, our joy no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds. The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.

—C. S. Lewis
Reflections on the Psalms, 89–96.

If the heart be directly and chiefly fixed on God, and the soul engaged to glorify him, some degree of religious affection will be the effect and attendant of it. But to seek after affection directly and chiefly, to have the heart principally set upon that, is to place it in the room of God and his glory. If it be sought, that others may take notice and admire us for our spirituality and forwardness in religion, it is then abominable pride: if for the sake of feeling the pleasure of being affected, it is then idolatry and self-gratification.

—David Brainerd
The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 2:414.

Henceforth, I am not to act, in any respect, as my own.

I shall act as my own if I ever make use of any of my powers to anything that is not to the glory of God, and do not make the glorifying of him my whole and entire business—if I murmur in the least at affliction; if I grieve at the prosperity of others; if I am in any way uncharitable; if I am angry because of injuries; if I revenge them; if I do anything purely to please myself, or if I avoid anything for the sake of my own ease; if I omit anything because it is great self-denial; if I trust to myself; if I take any of the praise of the good that I do, or that God does by me; or if I am in any way proud.

—Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758

Man’s Need for God-centeredness

Humanity does not need a man-centered God.

Nor is a man-centered gospel “good news” to a fallen world. Man-centeredness was the cause of the Fall in the first place. In a very significant way, the Fall was a “fall” from the heights of God-centered existence into man-centered existence (Gen 3:6).

In a very disturbing way, the world that we now live in is the world that man-centeredness has made. This man-centered course will inevitably deepen its own degeneration: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self…” (2Tim 3:1-2).

A man-centered gospel surely cannot be the solution to man-centeredness. What man needs is God-centeredness restored!

Therefore, only a God-centered Savior can love us in such a way that He meets our deepest need (cf. John 17:1-5).

This is our most basic salvation: to be saved from self-destruction; to be salvaged from ruin and spared from the due penalty of our rebellion through the Savior who is our God-centered Substitute; to be graciously restored to a place where we can rightly value what is truly most valuable, delight in what is most deserving, live for what is most lovely, glory in what is most good, behold what is most beautiful, extol what is most excellent, and worship what is most worthy—Christ alone can restore man to God in, through, and for God-centeredness.

Surely a God-centered God with a God-centered gospel is the only solution to man-centeredness.

May all who have tasted the goodness of the Lord rejoice, with praise to God in a heart of humility and thanksgiving. Amen.

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