In the begin­ning, God.

Let’s pause there.

Oceans, beach­es, but­ter­flies, sun, Big Dip­per, Milky Way — even time itself is not yet. Just God. Attempt­ing to imag­ine this mat­ter­less scene brings us face to face with our lim­i­ta­tions. And what is God doing in the time­less expanse? Only God knows. What­ev­er it is, it’s good. God isn’t bored or lone­ly. God is enjoy­ing them­selves — Father, Son, Spir­it. As far as we know that is the only thing there is to enjoy. And it is more than enough. 

So there is God the Trin­i­ty in eter­nal bliss, total­ly sat­is­fied, radi­ant, full of joy and infi­nite­ly hap­py, in need of noth­ing and hav­ing every­thing. What do per­sons like that do for fun? They give. They imag­ine. They make stuff.

God decides to share the love. And the joy.

It’s too good to keep to our­selves,” mus­es the Three-In-One. Let’s make a fam­i­ly that looks like us and grant them one of our great­est super­pow­ers: the abil­i­ty to choose. It’ll be too much for them. They’ll choose poor­ly. But I have a plan. Let’s use their poor choic­es to expand their capac­i­ty for joy. First they’ll break them­selves beyond repair. Then I’ll break myself for repair — my bro­ken body sup­ply­ing the mate­r­i­al need­ed to remake them into ves­sels that can con­tain more of Me. This is going to cost me dear­ly. But I have count­ed the cost and found it worth it. Love com­pels me. I love every­thing I make. But I’ll love them most because they’ll look like Me. And oh, the joy — exquis­ite joy in store for all of us. I can taste it already. It will sus­tain Me in my dark­est hour of suf­fer­ing. I’ll be their God, they’ll be my peo­ple. I’ll make my home in them and we’ll reign togeth­er forever.”

What response is there to this stag­ger­ing gen­eros­i­ty? What do we give back to the one who gave us everything? 

We give thanks. We bow in hon­or. We dare to draw near — bold­ly, because per­mis­sion has been grant­ed, and trem­bling because God is infi­nite per­son­al ener­gy and only fools approach that light­ly. This is Friend, Father, Com­forter. This is also Mas­ter and Maker.

O come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joy­ful noise to the rock of our sal­va­tion!
Let us come into his pres­ence with thanks­giv­ing;
let us make a joy­ful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the moun­tains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
O come, let us wor­ship and bow down,
let us kneel before the LORD, our Mak­er!
For he is our God,
and we are the peo­ple of his pas­ture,
and the sheep of his hand. —Psalm 95:1 – 7 NRSV

What is wor­ship? It is rec­og­niz­ing the worth of some­thing. And when we rec­og­nize the worth of some­thing we trea­sure it. To wor­ship God is to make God your trea­sure. Where your trea­sure is, there your heart will be also.” 

When we wor­ship God we come into agree­ment with truth, with real­i­ty. Because what’s worth more than God? Noth­ing. I don’t mean that as a the­o­log­i­cal propo­si­tion. I mean it as a fun­da­men­tal fact of nature. We val­ue that which is rare and beau­ti­ful and has the per­ceived or actu­al abil­i­ty to sat­is­fy our long­ing for con­nec­tion and mean­ing and hap­pi­ness. And there is noth­ing more rare and beau­ti­ful and sat­is­fy­ing than God. By that mea­sure God is the most valu­able thing in the uni­verse. Holy, holy, holy, the crea­tures say around God’s throne. They know. God is total­ly unique, whol­ly oth­er, infi­nite and unseen yet tak­ing on the form of a human so that humans could see His beau­ty more clear­ly — the glo­ry of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Our job as moth­ers and fathers, artists and writ­ers, pas­tors and teach­ers and wor­ship lead­ers is to help oth­ers see real­i­ty — to behold the beau­ty of God. We’re tour guides. We dri­ve peo­ple out to the Grand Canyon of God and stare breath­less over the abyss and say Will you look at that? And our won­der inspires their wonder.

God is not a cos­mic ego­tist. God doesn’t need to hear us say, You are good, slow to anger and abound­ing in lov­ing kind­ness — patient and pow­er­ful, high and hum­ble.” God doesn’t need to hear us say that but we need to say it. We need to set our minds on it. Because it’s the truth and the truth sets us free. 

So God doesn’t need any­thing — but what does God want? God wants friend­ship. God wants friends because God still likes mak­ing stuff. And unlike most of us, God likes main­tain­ing it, too. God decid­ed his plea­sure and glo­ry are increased by mak­ing and main­tain­ing and cre­at­ing and reign­ing with some­one — some­one made in God’s own image. Won­der of won­ders, that some­one is us. 

Jesus is King of kings, and we are the kings and queens over whom he pre­sides. We relate to him as such, with rev­er­ence and awe. How could we be so lucky, so for­tu­nate, so blessed? This priv­i­lege of being called sons and daugh­ters and friends of God is cause for cel­e­bra­tion. We burst into song, we dance with joy, we fall on our face, we stare in silence, we receive the Father’s embrace. 

Oh Jesus, how is it that we get to sit in heav­en­ly places with you? If that weren’t enough, you’ve come clos­er to us than we thought pos­si­ble — you made us your home. Peo­ple once went to the tem­ple to wor­ship. Now the tem­ple is us. We are portable sanc­tu­ar­ies to wor­ship you and talk with you wher­ev­er we go. Nev­er again will we rejoice alone, nev­er again will we suf­fer alone, nev­er again will we have to fig­ure it out on our own. Thank you. Praise you. There is noth­ing more sat­is­fy­ing than glo­ri­fy­ing you.

Pho­to by Drif Riadh on Unsplash

Text First Published December 2018

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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