Not Seeking Himself, But Us
Monday of Advent 3
12 December 2016
God does not give Himself to us in Christ to earn our praise. The very idea that God would seek affirmation of Himself from us is ridiculous. It is not as though God looks into His heavenly mirror and says, "I'm not feeling very good about myself today. Let me see if I can elicit some praise and glory out of those human beings I made. That will make me feel good about myself. A miracle or two should do. Then I will hear from them, 'Way to go, Lord! Aren't you wonderful, Lord! You're the greatest, Lord!'" No, God is not like us; always seeking praise.
 
Christ seeks not our praise but us. He seeks not our acclamation but our salvation. He seeks not our wonder, but the wandering. "Worship," then, is not for God, but for us. Just as God is for-us. Worship is a gift from God laden with his righteousness, forgiveness, and living and active promises of Christ. Such gifts cannot become subject to our control. They cannot become our way of feeling good about ourselves either. They must be God's to be gracious. Christ acts to give Himself to us in worship. The Word that became flesh still comes among us.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
 
"There is no deception in the miracles of God, no subtle pretence to please or to deceive. These works of the Son of God were done from no desire for self-display. He whom countless myriads of angels serve never deluded man. What of ours could He need, through whom all that we have was created? Did He demand praise from us who now are heavy with sleep, now sated with lust, now laden with the guilt of riot and bloodshed, now drunken from reveling-He whom archangels, and dominions, and principalities, and powers, without sleep or cessation or sin, praise in heaven with everlasting and unwearied voice? They praise Him because He, the Image of the invisible God, created all their host in Himself, made the worlds, established the heavens, appointed the stars, fixed the earth, laid the foundations of the deep; because in time He was born, He conquered death, broke the gates of hell, won for Himself a people to be His fellow-heirs, lifted flesh from corruption up to the glory of eternity. There was nothing, then, that He might gain from us, which could induce Him to assume the splendor of these mysterious and inexplicable [miraculous] works, as though He needed our praise. But God foresaw how human sin and folly would be misled, and knew that disbelief would dare to pass its judgment even on the things of God, and therefore He vanquished presumption by tokens of His power that must give pause to our boldest.
 
"For there are many of those wise men of the world whose wisdom is folly with God, who contradict our proclamation of God from God, True from True, Perfect from Perfect, One from One, as though we taught things impossible. They pin their faith on certain conclusions which they have reached by process of logic...This is that wisdom of the world which was foreseen by God even in the prophet's days, and condemned through him in the words, 'The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden' (Is 29:14). And the apostle says: 'Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men' (1Co 1:20-25).
 
"The Son of God, therefore, having the charge of mankind, was first made man, that men might believe on Him; that He might be to us a witness, sprung from ourselves, of things divine, and preach to us, weak and flesh as we are, through the weakness of the flesh concerning God the Father, so fulfilling the Father's will, even as He says, I came not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me (Jn 6:38). It was not that He Himself was unwilling, but that He might manifest His obedience as the result of His Father's will, for His own will is to do His Father's. This is that will to carry out the Father's will of which He testifies in the words: 'Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world.' (Jn 17:1-6). In words short and few He has revealed the whole task to which He was appointed and assigned. Yet those words, short and few as they are, are the true faith's safeguard against every suggestion of the devil's cunning."

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 3.7-9
John 17:1-5

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
(ESV)
Prayer
Lord Jesus, be with me when I go to Your house of worship that I might receive from You the gifts of word and sacraments. Help me seek these gifts with joy that in them I might receive only You who in them seeks me. Amen.
 
For those hungering and thirsting after righteousness, that they would be fulfilled in the Word of God alone
 
For the family of Marcia Bell, whom our Lord took to Himself, that they would be encouraged in the midst of their grief with the power of life from Christ
 
For Ellen Brda, that the Lord would be with her granting her strength and confidence in God
 
For Janice Tackett, that she would be strengthened in body and spirit
Art: VASARI, Giorgio  Annunciation ( 1564-67)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2016