Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Object of Christian Faith: God's Glory, Not Our Comfort

These days I am really enjoying a book recommended to me by our son, Philip. The book is called Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. This book inspires and challenges me to divest myself of a "culture Christianity" and to instead, Christ's call to radical repentance and radical discipleship. This was especially true of these words, which I read yesterday:
God blesses his people with extraordinary grace so they might extend his extravagant glory to all the peoples of the earth. This basic, fundamental truth permeates Scripture from beginning to end. Yet I wonder if we unknowingly ignore [this]...

We live in a church culture that has a dangerous tendency to disconnect the grace of God from the glory of God. Our hearts resonate with the idea of enjoying God's grace. We bask in sermons, conferences, and books that exalt a grace centering on us. And while the wonder of grace is worthy of our attention, if that grace is disconnected from its purposes [to empower believers to glorify and share the God made known in Christ with others], the sad result is a self-centered Christianity that bypasses the heart of God.

If you were to ask the average Christian sitting in a worship service on Sunday morning to summarize the message of Christianity, you would most likely hear something along the lines of "The message of Christianity is that God loves me." Or someone might say, "The message of Christianity is that God loves me enough to send his Son, Jesus, to die for me."

As wonderful as that sentiment sounds, is it biblical? Isn't it incomplete, based on what [we see] in the Bible? "God loves me" is not the essence of biblical Christianity. Because if "God loves me" is the message of Christianity, then who is the object of Christianity?

God loves me.


Christianity's object is me.

Therefore, when I look for a church, I look for the music that best fits me and the programs that best cater to me and my family. When I consider the house I will live in, the clothes I will wear, the way I will live, I will choose according to what is best for me. This is the version of Christianity that largely prevails in our culture.

But it is not biblical Christianity.

The message of biblical Christianity is not "God loves me, period," as if we were the object of faith. The message of biblical Christianity is "God loves me so that I might make him--his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness--known among all nations." Now God is the object of our faith and Christianity centers around him. We are not the end of the gospel; God is.
[The bold emphases are mine.]

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