Sometimes I imagine myself as the star in a movie about my life. I’m the main character in a novel of adventure and romance. I’m the heroine, the protagonist, the leading lady. No one can steal my spotlight, because this life is my story.
The funny thing is … God thinks this way too.
If you study the Bible closely, you’ll realize the primary goal of missions is not about saving people. Salvation and redemption are secondary motives that contribute to the first, which, believe it or not, is about God. The Great Commission commands us to spread the gospel so that God may be known and worshiped. God wants everyone in the world to hear about him and praise his name.
When I first heard that God’s highest priority is his own glory, I rebelled. My immediate thought was, God’s a narcissist. I admit it: the idea repulsed me.
But God isn’t the narcissist. I am.
I didn’t want to hear that God’s primary objective isn’t about me. In my mind, Jesus was entirely loving and selfless for my sake. Jesus died to save me, right? Days before his crucifixion, though, Jesus declared, “But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” And a voice from heaven answered him, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again” (John 12:27-8). Jesus was on a public relations campaign, amping up the masses to praise God. By his death and resurrection, he planned to honor God and show off his Father’s greatness. This is what he was all about. He didn’t come for my sake, but for the Lord’s. Jesus knew what I didn’t: life isn’t about me.
Max Lucado makes this case in his aptly titled book “It’s Not About Me.” He references how people used to believe the sun, stars, and planets all revolved around the earth. When Copernicus disagreed, no one wanted to listen. Lucado argues that our self-centered nature has not progressed much since. We admit we are not at the center literally, but our lives would say it’s figuratively true. “Could a Copernican shift be in order?” Lucado writes. “Perhaps our place is not at the center of the universe. God does not exist to make a big deal out of us. We exist to make a big deal out of him. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s all about him.”
We are not the sun in God’s universe; his son is. Jesus is the star of the show. The rest of us are supporting roles. To resist taking center-stage, Lucado recommends less navel-gazing and more looking upwards. The universe is a massive expanse of solar systems and celestial bodies, and here we are, just pinpricks on an orbiting rock somewhere in space. If staring into the night sky has a self-diminishing effect, how much more does meditating on the greatness of God?
God is powerful where we are weak. He created the universe and maintains it. He exists outside of time and is unchanging; we are time-bound and fickle. God’s love saves us when we cannot save ourselves. His love is limitless; ours runs short. The appropriate response to such greatness, like when meeting a mighty monarch, is to bow down and praise him. “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods” (1 Chronicles 16:24-25).
If life isn’t about me, then how does that change the way I live? Lucado compares our role to the moon. We have no light of our own, but we reflect the light of the son. Everything that we say, do, and are–it’s all for God. “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Our message should proclaim him. Our salvation should praise him. Our body should honor him. Our struggles should magnify him. Our successes should exalt him. Lucado details in his book how each of these life areas can and should bring God glory.
Lucado writes, “May God rescue us from self-centered thinking. May we have no higher goal than to see someone think more highly of our Father, our King.”
Jesus’ job on earth was for God’s glory. Just before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion, he prayed, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4). If Jesus lived for God’s glory, and died for it, then why should I do any differently? If I claim to follow Christ, then I must live and even die as he did. My problems become insignificant, just tiny threads in the greater tapestry. My life is a subplot in God’s story. I am less than a single brushstroke in his masterpiece. I exist to serve his pattern, his plot, his vision.
Note: “It’s Not About Me” gave me so much food for thought that it can’t be fit in a single blog post. Keep watch for another post coming soon. I will zoom in on the idea that even our struggles are meant to glorify God. How does this work and what does it mean for how I bear my suffering?