Monday, October 11, 2010

Glorifying God for His Glory in Nature

The Westminster Shorter Catechism declares: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” That is to say that human beings exist to praise God and thus live a life that enjoys God for ever. The question that follows from this naturally is how to glorify God in such a way that we can enjoy him forever? This also means that believers ought to be always on the look out for stimuli to praise God every moment of their lives.
Glorifying God is not by repetition of some mantras that has some self-hypnotic effects or the like. It is not getting into a trance or ecstatic experience that comes from psychedelic lights or sounds. Glorifying God is not subjective, but objective in its nature where the worshiper gazes the glory of God realizing how the creator is distinct from the creation. Real praise of God happens when we see the glory of God and pours forth our hearts before him.
The psalmists are good examples for worshipers of God. They acknowledged God in their lives, in creation, in history and in everything. Psalmist who penned Psalm 8 might have composed it at night or for singing for a celebration at night because there is no mention of sun but the night sky (stars, moon) are mentioned. The singer and the chorus would scan the clear night-sky of Palestine and shout in adoration “how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
While the Psalmist had drawn his inspiration to praise from a cosmic scene the poet of Psalm 104 has a much smaller frame of nature: The cultivated land from which humans and animals get their food from. He would praise God saying “Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty” (Psalm 104:1). His inspiration comes from the planet earth and the space where the plants and trees grow and fish, birds and animals thrive. Because it is a great God who provides for them.0
In the history of Christian church, there are numerous examples where the believers used nature as a resource for worship. Saint Francis of Assissi is the outstanding example. He could see God in the nature and had cultivated a habit of connecting with God's creation. Another example that comes to my mind is the author of the great hymn, “How Great Thou art!” translated in to almost every modern language.
In 1885 Swedish pastor Carl Gustav Boberg was walking back home after an evening service from his church when he was inspired by the sight of lightning and winds making waves in the fields and the rain that followed. The pastor himself said later about the inspiration for the song. "It was that time of year when everything seemed to be in its richest colouring; the birds were singing in trees and everywhere. It was very warm; a thunderstorm appeared on the horizon and soon thunder and lightning. We had to hurry to shelter. But the storm was soon over and the clear sky appeared.” Inspired by the nature scene he wrote “How Great Thou Art!”
Nature is the stimulus and the reason for glorifying God provided we are willing to see the majesty of God the creator in it. Just like a painting declares the creativity of the painter and all praise for the painting is in fact praise for the painter, we praise God when we see his glory in nature around us.
However, humans have marred and disfigured the nature. We have leveled the hills and filled the meadows to erect concrete jungles that hide the view of sunrise and sunset. We have lights in our streets that are so bright and lights up the evening sky so that the stars are scarcely visible. We have built factories that emit fumes in to the sky that shrivels the trees and makes birds flee from our trees and fish to die in our rivers. We have messed up God's nature.
However, though humans have marred God's nature and thus his glory we look at what remains to elicit praise from hearts. We can look at beautiful landscape photos freely available to praise him. There are TV channels that showcase the beauty of God's creation that make us bow down in praise of God the creator. A walk in the country side is certainly an unavoidable option. However, it is important that we don't just look through nature around us but see the glory and majesty of our God in it and pour forth our adoration of him.
Like wise true and meaningful worship takes place when we open our eyes to see God's glory displayed around us and is sensitive to his acts in our lives and history. Acknowledging God in our lives, in creation, in history and in everything. (to be continued...)

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