We spend a lot of time discussing the idols that we all struggle to resist: pride, lust, social status, success, control. This is a good thing that we all should continually pray and think about, but on it’s own it leads to a deficient faith. We need to know more than what not to desire; God’s plan for us is not a list of ‘do nots’. God has a positive plan plan for our lives – he doesn’t want us to stop desiring, he just wants us to desire the right thing.
So, what’s the right thing? Jonathan Edwards, a 17th century American pastor, wrote,
“Now our last and highest end is doubtless what should be first in our desires . . . [therfore] God’s glory should be . . . our last end . . . God’s glory is the last end of the creation.”
Edwards is making a profound point. He is saying that our heart’s should desire, first and foremost, should be for whatever God made us for. So, What did God create us for? His glory. What should we desire above all else? His glory!
Isaiah 43:6-7 says,
I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
God created us for his glory! But he not only created us for his glory, he also redeemed us for his glory. Christ put it frankly when he explained where he gained the strength to climb the cross, “What shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (John 12:27-28, emphasis added). Christ was able to bear the weight of the cross, by setting his heart on his ultimate purpose in redemption: glorifying God!
Remember what Edwards said: “our last and highest end is doubtless what should be first in our desires.” God’s glory is his last and highest end, and he made humans to live in the same way: for his glory.
Idolatry is trading the creator God’s glory, for the false glory of created things (Rom 1:18ff). That’s why idols destroy us – they turn our eyes from the very source of life, meaning, worth, beauty, love, and joy! Through Christ, however, our relationship with God is restored. As Christians, he sends his Holy Spirit to transform us into Christ’s image, “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18).
What does this mean practically? Through Christ we not only resist our idols, but we actively glorify God in all that we do. Paul puts it this way, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
The gospel frees us, so that we don’t love friendship for our own sake (for approval, for a sense of worth, to ward off our loneliness). Instead, we love them for their sake – so that they might feel loved, enjoyed, and served. How? We receive our approval, satisfaction, and glory outside of our friends. Therefore we don’t try to manipulate it out of our friends. We receive our worth from God’s glory in Christ! His glory is our desire!
Apply the gospel truth – that we’ve been saved from our idols to enjoy God’s glory and glorify him in doing so – to all realities of life and we will see an incredible transformation in our hearts, and in even in the hearts of those around us.