Sunday, April 8, 2012

In some ways, it is about you

Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life starts with a great sentence: "It's not about you."  The implication is that it's about God; even your life is about God.  That's a powerful statement.  It serves as a corrective to the American way of thinking; indeed, to the strong drive in all people towards self-centeredness.  Much time and therapy could be avoided if people would believe that one sentence.

But ... in some ways, it is about you.

That's a conclusion I draw from the apostle Paul's first sermon to the worshippers in the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:16-41).

The sermon breaks down into three broad section.  First, (16-22) Paul talks about how God oversaw the history of Israel from the time he chose their fathers (Genesis 12ff.) to his raising up of David as king (1 Samuel 16ff.).  His emphasis is on God's sovereign control of history to care for his people.

From David's offspring, Paul says, God, in keeping with his control of history to care for his people, brought to them Jesus, "a Savior."  In the second section (23-37) Paul demonstrates the validity of the claim that Jesus is the Savior (John pointed to himas great, he fulfills prophecy, etc.).

So Jesus came, suffered, was executed, buried, raised, and seen by eye-witnesses.  What's left?  Well, the third section (38-41), which begins, "Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you ... " (38 [ESV], emphasis added).  This section highlights the forgiveness of sins and the justification that is yours before God in Christ, if you believe (the necessity of faith is emphasized).

So what is one to conclude?  That God has orchestrated history for millennia, and that Jesus came in order to suffer and die and be raised, so that you can be reconciled to God by having your sins dealt with in the only way--a radical way--that they could be dealt with.  In some ways, it is about you.

Are you to be self-absorbed as a result?  Are you to think "I'm all that"?  In no way.  Scripture's clear that God loves us not because of anything noteworthy in us, but because he is love.

What you are to take away from this, though, is God's tremendous love for you.  It's almost cliche to say, "God loves you."  But he does; that's the inescapable conclusion of Paul's sermon in Acts 13.


Anonymous said...

Dear Kent, Rick Warren makes an interesting point. But if "it’s not about you," as Rick Warren claims, then, perhaps, we would actually have more suicides after Christmas in the bleaker months of the year than what we now have. (Some claim there are more suicides then for the reason of all the excitement of the holidays being gone; family and friends have all left; and the mundane Monday through Friday routines are all back for good..) PEOPLE DON’T REALIZE JUST WHAT THE FULL LOVE OF GOD MEANS. ("behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard." --1 Kings 10:7). This is the reason I believe the FULL GOSPEL MENS FELLOWSHIP AND OTHER SUCH GROUPS SUCH AS PROMISE KEEPERS thrive so well in the world. The Church does provide that love and, thus, has prospered for centuries. Romans 5:5 explains it, I feel, Kent.
"And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:5, NIV, 1984 edition)
If the world was released from Satan’s grip (as it will be so in the 1000 year reign of Christ), they too would discover for themselves of having fellowship with the Living, loving God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Kent, the people who make their own gods such as the Greeks, for example, what with
Zeus, Jupiter, Jove; Phoebus, Phoebus Apollo, Apollo; Ares, Mars; Hermes, Mercury; Poseidon, Neptune; Hephaestus, Vulcan; Dionysus, Bacchus; Hades, Pluto; Kronos, Saturn; Eros, Cupid.
Think them to be like men in many respects, i.e., fighting and bickering and trying to exercise authority over men, etc. None of them – not even Zeus, who is supposed to be the Greek god of love – last in the minds of men for any kinds of comfort; because their promise to love and help is not without limit. But Almighty God’s love is without limit and available to all (John 3:16) – "WHOSOEVER." And, frankly the Bible makes it very clear that there are no other god. Our God reigns:
Psalm 24:1 "The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein."
Science fiction writers make all the supposed friendly, helpful and super-intelligent beings limited in aspects of their supposed friendship and helpfulness toward man. But our God is above all that poppycock! The Man, Christ Jesus, Who is the Human Race’s Creator, King, Lord, Redeemer, Savior All-Powerful God, loves us so much he came to die for us and rise from the dead, which is our Greatest Good and glory! The multi-million dollar hospital just built on the north side of Fort Wayne can’t even do that, what with all their latest, most elaborate and expensive technology.
If it were true, Kent, that God does not care for us to the end that NOTHING God created is about us either as a race of intelligent beings and/or individuals, then why did He die and rise from the dead to defeat our greatest enemy from timeless ages past – DEATH? --Dad

Kent S said...

Warren's point was that the universe doesn't revolve around us, and I agree with him. We were created, and then redeemed, to glorify God. I was shifting perspective a bit with my comments by pointing out that "It's not about you" is not absolutely true, something I think Warren would agree with. I've no doubt that Warren believes in God's tremendous love for us, supremely manifested at Calvary.