I'm sure you've heard the Westminster Confession that states, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever." If you've never heard it, your leaders have, and it's probably been a formative confession in their lives.
I love the Westminster Confession. I really do. I just feel like Jesus jacks with what we've done with it.
When I read Jesus, I see the chief end of his life was to obey his Father, and the Father was entirely about his own glory, and about redeeming a broken world. The redemption of things brings glory to God.
You and I are a part of that redemptive work, which is why we sing songs of love to him. It's gratitude. We love God for redeeming a ton of broken stuff in our lives. God loves it when we enjoy singing these songs to him, no doubt.
However, it's not hard to see how the statement, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever", has allowed us to slip into a sort of consumerism theologically, which then, has implications on our practices.
Can you see a fine line?
We've fallen short of the confession.
The Westminster Confession has unwillingly given us license to narrowly define "glorifying and enjoying" God as something we do in worship services. The confession isn't wrong, but maybe our narrow treatment of it is.
In Christendom, the mission was to get everyone into the enjoyment of the temple. Now, the church is waking up to a deeper call - the mission to extend the Kingdom of God in a post-christendom context. We are challenged to think differently about the mission of our life - the worship of our life - the "chief end" of our life.
I can see that the chief end of Jesus' life one earth was the redemption of all that broke in the Fall. He even said the reason he came was to seek and to save all that was lost. That's why he lived on earth with such a tremendous missional work ethic. Jesus worked hard, and gave everything, to redeem everything. That's God. God enjoys finding lost people, healing the sick, and redeeming broken things.
"For the joy set before him he endured the cross", for the hope of redeeming you and I, and the world.
What if God said to us, "I've shown you how to glorify and enjoy me in my Son. He glorifies and enjoys me perfectly."
We would then have to reconcile the fact that we never see an account of Jesus singing to God in worship services as much as we do. I'm not sure what that says, but I feel like it preaches. What it preaches exactly, I don't know.
We do, however, see his perfect worship on display. It looked like service. It looked like befriending the outcast. It looked like healing the sick. It looked like doing whatever the Father said to do. It looked like obedience.
This challenges our definition of "worship" and our worship practices.
This is why…we spend a LOT of time doing "worship" the way we do it, as if it's what God wants us to do until he returns, while, at the same time, many people are aggressively turning against the christian narrative because they do not see Jesus in us.
What if we are simply "inside" enjoying God too much? Some people might say it's not possible to enjoy God too much, I think Jesus would say, "That's right", and then he might tweak what we think glorifying and enjoying the Father means.
Does that mean that we shouldn't worship Jesus with songs anymore? Of course not. I mean that we might include MORE in our understanding of worship, as Jesus did himself.
I'm saying we might join Jesus in acts of worship to the Father that include putting a stake of redemption in the ground somewhere. Somewhere outside the Temple.
I believe singing to God will have a huge part to play in that, but it might just look different, and involve more than we currently see.
I'll write more about that later.
Any knee-jerks out there? Help me think through this… What am I missing?