Green Pines Baptist Church, Knightdale
On a cool fall morning in the mountains of North Carolina, I lost my breath. I just drove over a knoll to see the sky aflame with a majestic sunrise. Somehow the gold, red and orange light-laced clouds merged with the yellow and red foliage of the mountains. The colors met together at the bright-blurred orb of the sun. I had to get out of my car and stand in awe with mouth agape.
When was the last time you were in awe? What was it that made you drop your mouth in wonder? Perhaps it was the birth of a child, a grand vista, the sound of the surf, or a close inspection of a spider web. Chances are: it was too long ago that you felt any wonder. To be in awe is a wonderful experience and lightens our load. The common denominator of awe is self-forgetfulness. We have come upon an object that is so glorious that we reject self-absorption. It is one of those rare times, when we have witnessed something that is more beautiful, grand, or complex than ourselves and we don’t mind admitting it.
Now consider as great as that awe-inspiring moment is, there is someone who created that moment. How much more should we be in awe of the creator of beautiful landscapes, life, oceans, and humans? The most beautiful sights of this earth are but shadows of the creator’s beauty. When we thoughtfully consider the character of God there is to be the greatest sense of wonder and awe. In fact, this is what “awesome” means. If God-directed thoughts do not overwhelm us, then it is because we have dwarfed considerations of God’s character. Sadly, that is the state in which all of us are born.
What on earth could dwarf God’s character in our minds? It is none other than our own selves. We are born looking out for our own interests and desires. Selfishness is a natural tendency that doesn’t need to be taught, only perfected. It must be that we consider ourselves to be worthy of being the center of attention. Not only do we attend to ourselves, we crave, yes, demand the attention of others. Now this seems perfectly reasonable, after all, are not all of us guilty? However, consider this disposition in light of my morning drive in the mountains. What if you were enjoying that sunrise with me on that morning? Instead of calling your attention to the sunrise, I insisted that you look at my brand new shoes. My demands would have seemed foolish and shallow in light of that sunrise. Perhaps, you might have been mad at me, for making you miss such beauty. Really, my shoes do not compare to the sunrise, no matter how soft the leather may be.
What do you think the creator of the sunrise thinks when we live absorbed with ourselves? This is pride and it is the height of arrogance before an awesome God. To give glory to God is good, for He is worth it. To give glory to self is arrogance, for we are not equal to the hype. Romans 3:23 states it this way, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (NIV). At the heart, “sin” is to exalt yourself above God. As long as we are in this state, our relationship with God is impossible. Regardless of our attempts to be good our status before God has not been improved for there has yet to be any kind of humility. In fact our man made improvements have made the situation worse. For now we are demanding attention and approval from God for our good efforts.
How do we know when we are exalting ourselves over God? The Bible lists multiple ways to discern this attitude and the most common passage is known as the “ten commandments”. To summarize the commandments allow me to ask these questions. Do you put anyone over God? Do you put anything over God? Are you careless with God’s character and name? Are you careless with what is important to God? Have you dishonored your parents? Have you disregarded life and murdered? Have you disregarded love and marriage and committed adultery? Have you disregarded an individual’s freedom and stolen property? Have you disregarded truth and lied? Have you disregarded God’s provision for you and spent your life craving more? If we answer “yes” to any of these questions we have betrayed our self-absorption. Romans 6:23 tell us that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NKJV). This attitude will produce the contempt of a truly great God for arrogant living.
The solution is not found in “do better” living advocated by so many religious teachers. The only solution is found in humbling ourselves before this awesome God. Romans 10:9 states, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (NKJV). Specifically, we are to acknowledge our prideful living and ask God to forgive our sin and arrogance. We trust that this creator will forgive us because of the penalty paid by Jesus Christ. A God, who is just, is willing to take the perfect life and death of the God-man Jesus as a substitution for us. However, the confession is accompanied by an acknowledgment that Jesus is Lord. When we start living in such a way that shows God is great, we start living with right perspective with the rest of life. Jesus said it this way, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” Matthew 6:33 (NKJV).
You are invited to live for this God of wonders.
Pastor Jarrod Scott is Senior Minister for Green Pines Baptist Church in Knightdale, North Carolina.