The Gospel Has a U-Shape: Getting Excited About Glorifying God

The Problem

Do you desire to see God glorified?

All Christians sing songs praising God. Most likely they adore him in prayer and speak of his greatness to others. Yet, I wonder if there are many Christians who have never felt a spark of joy – even excitement – at seeing God glorified.

This was true for me. It wasn’t until several years after becoming a Christian that I first began feeling joy at the thought of making God’s greatness known. Up until that point I thought glorifying God was a duty of Christians, but not a joy. I read John the Baptist’s words – “He must increase; I must decrease” – with a sense of conviction, yet failing to see the freedom and excitement in such a theology.

I, like many Christians, tended to see the gospel as an arrow from God to us. We needed to be saved and so God died for us because he loves us. This is true, yet incomplete to a degree. Leaving it there can lead us to think that we are the end of the gospel; the main character in the story of redemption. We can begin to think God couldn’t live without us, or that he saved us because we were worth loving or saving.

Conversely, God’s love has God at the center, not us. Many find this description of God’s love unsatisfying, if not offensive. Jonathan Leeman explains that this “offends us because people are included not for the honor of their name; they are included for the honor and praise of his name.”[1] I wonder if many Christians are among the number of people who are offended at this view of the gospel. Are there many Christians who simply don’t get excited about seeing God glorified?

The U-Shaped Solution

Shortly after I became a Christian I underwent a personal reformation in my theology, which included understanding more deeply the gospel and doctrine of the atonement. These great truths of God’s love for me and his unmerited grace had the strangest effect: it made me long to see God glorified and see myself forgotten. The average person in America today might read that last sentence and think, “how sad.” However, this new realization resulted in extraordinary joy and freedom. Freedom to not think of myself constantly. Joy stemming from seeing Christ glorified because he alone is worthy of all praise.

Rather than an arrow pointing down to us, we find that the gospel has a U-shape. We were hopeless and undeserving of God’s love. We had no ability to contribute anything to our salvation. Yet, God came down. In his matchless love he engraved our names on his hands. God fills our cup with the riches of his grace, and we overflow in praise to him.

Now What?

In reality, living to glorify God was what we were always made to do (Isa. 43:7). Through our redemption God re-directs our hearts to worship him and in so doing he restores us to our factory settings after sin had bogged us down like a new iOS on an iPhone 7.

So, how do we grow in eagerness to glorify God? We should sing songs that rightly praise God for his goodness, power and mercy. We should read his Word and hear it preached regularly. We should cultivate self-forgetfulness in our hearts by finding ways to humbly serve others. Most of all, we need to massage the truth of the gospel into our hearts until we can joyfully say with John the Baptist, “He must increase; I must decrease.”

[1] Jonathan Leeman, The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline, Edition Unstated edition (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2010). 102.

Published by Mike


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