Delighting in God’s Glory
This post is the part one of three posts about the phrases found at the top of our Sunday bulletins, “Delighting in God’s Glory, Demonstrating His Grace, Declaring His Gospel.” Part two is here.
Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
This famous statement of the Westminster Shorter Catechism proclaims the liberating truth that our purpose is revealed, not discovered. Though Disney’s heroines have taught us from childhood to discover our “true selves” and forge an identity apart from that which is given, the existential burden of that undertaking is substantial, and our confidence in the outcome is highly subject to social affirmation and personal whim. In contrast, we can have great confidence that the Creator knows the purpose for which he has created us, and in the case of mankind, we have been created to glorify and enjoy God.
Glorifying God does not mean to increase his glory or make him more glorious, since he is eternally glorious (John 17:5) and needs nothing from his creation (Acts 17:24-25). Rather, glorifying God means to reflect and acknowledge his glory and to ascribe it to him (Psalm 96:6-8). This is directly related to enjoying him. C. S. Lewis describes how praising something consummates and completes our enjoyment of it:
It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete until it is expressed . . . The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.*
Furthermore, we increase our capacity for enjoyment through knowledge and experience. A casual wine drinker might know, for instance, that they enjoy red wine more than white. But a sommelier will enjoy an excellent wine in its rich complexity, noticing its grape type, soil, and region of origin, flavor notes, distinguishing start and finish, and comparing its superiority with alternatives. Both people enjoy the wine, but one has, over time, cultivated a much greater capacity for enjoyment and a more vastly nuanced vocabulary for praise.
God is infinitely more complex, beautiful, and glorious than grapes! And in his goodness, he has made it our purpose to celebrate and delight in him, since even the greatest created things only dimly reflect his glory and beauty. Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.