"What's in it for Me?"
Now that we have established the importance of seeking God’s beauty or His majesty or His holiness every moment of every day in everything we say and do, some might be inclined to ask, “What’s in it for me? How can seeing God and experiencing God in every situation…at work, at play, in nature, in other people, and in living beings really impact my everyday life? How exactly does basking in God’s beauty every moment of every day in all that we say and do supply us with an abundant life? How does all of this fancy talk about beauty have anything to do with my daily stress and worry and temptation and boredom and depression and doubt?”
These are all practical questions that should naturally follow a series of sermons that may appear to be more theoretical or “wishful thinking” than practical daily advice for living out our Christian faith. So, with one sermon, let me attempt to apply some of the principles we have learned to our own lives.
JONATHAN EDWARDS AND DANE ORTLUND
In this series I have mentioned the name of the revivalist, author, philosopher, theologian and pastor of the 18th century, Jonathan Edwards. Although he is most recognized for his hellfire sermon titled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” most of his time was spent revealing God’s beauty and majesty, and God’s plan to woo His people to Him through His glory and His love. This is a key teaching of the Scripture that has been apparently lost in the last couple centuries although the theme is occasionally touched upon.
Dane Ortlund recently authored a book about the theology of Edwards entitled “Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God.” I want to give Ortlund his due in this particular message for providing five ways our understanding and our search for the beauty of the Lord can impact our daily lives (interview with Ortlund from desiringgod.org).
First, God’s beauty helps us in our busyness. It soothes and calms our anxious hearts. Ortlund states, “The beauty of God’s tender mercy calms me down, lets me breathe again, slows my heart’s frantic scurrying about.”
When I take a hike in the middle of nowhere, I do not fear. My fears are relieved. I do not worry. My anxiety is soothed. Why? It is not only because a stunning creation surrounds me and nearly engulfs me but because of God’s revelation and personal presence in the beauty around me. All of the static and noise of the world is suddenly silenced. This is the very reason I prefer to hike in places where any worldly noise is inaudible. No voices, no music, no automobiles, no machinery…nothing except the sounds of creation. All of my worries and fears and doubts and anxieties suddenly, maybe even miraculously, appear so miniscule. Why? Because I am reminded that God, the Creator of this universe and the Sustainer of life, is my Father…is my Friend…is somehow in total control of this chaotic world…is on my side…is guiding me.
(see the other four ways this impacts our lives in the next excerpts)