In the initial post for this blog, I called for the church to “be herself”, to resist pressures to conform to any other purpose for her than Christ’s. I also called this process of “becoming herself” a great struggle. And I do believe it is. At the same time, another perspective simplifies matters. Sometimes we are so immersed in the details of decision-making and wisdom for that “next step” that we lose sight of the overarching motivation that should shape and drive us.
Is there truly one motive that should reign in our lives? I think so. One suggestion is this: the Westminster Confession of Faith speaks of the chief end of man being “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This is a twofold purpose which has a wonderful unity. Certainly, one cannot exist without the other. We don’t enjoy God apart from a pursuit of His glory. Moreover, there is no way we can glorify God without also being drawn into deep joy.
This simplifies matters for us. By being drawn into His glory and joy, the smaller issues are revealed for what they are: small. What is the next step that we should take as a church? What is best for our marriages? Should I take this job? Should I take that job? Certainly God is glorified through details, but in the light of God’s glory, smaller issues are subsumed into a major narrative. And this should be freeing to us. It should free us from the burden of (dare I say it?) “being God”, i.e. directing the course of our lives.
There is a prayer that was credited to Blaise Pascal that, to me, illustrates these matters better than most anything else I have come across. I would urge you to think on these things upon which Pascal touches:
I ask You neither for health nor for sickness, for life nor for death;
But that You may dispose of my health and my sickness,
My life and my death for Your glory…
You alone know what is expedient for me; You are the sovereign master;
Do with me according to Your will.
Give to me or take away from me, only conform my will to Yours.
I know but one thing Lord, that it is good to follow You,
And bad to offend You.
Apart from that, I know not what is good or bad in anything.
I know not what is most profitable to me,
Health or sickness, wealth or poverty, nor anything else in the world.
That discernment is beyond the power of men or angels
And is hidden among the secrets of Your providence,
Which I adore, but do not seek to fathom.