We Live to Display
There is not a person in the world who does not display the worth of something. We have this innate desire to make much of something greater than ourselves and that outside of ourselves. “Did you see who made the playoffs?” “So, this weekend I went to…” There must be something of value that we find our value in, that we desire to show as valuable, and something that we so desperately want to invite others in to enjoy it with us.
C.S. Lewis shows us this truth,
The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars…[then they] spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?”
Yet, the things we enjoy aren’t really that outstanding. Get the new iPhone 8? You’re going to be outdated with the 10. Love your job? It’ll get harder, and besides, your friend’s job is much more interesting. This is an endless pursuit of self-glory, and nothing holds its luster. By pointing to ourselves as supremely valuable, we let so many down. When we tell others that this thing is deserving of the most praise, we lead them astray by overselling and under-delivering. How sad, selfish, and sinful we are. We have completely missed true value, ‘our desires are not too strong, but too weak.’
And why do we seek to display what we delight in? Because we want to find what is most excellent and point others to glory in it with us. What are we designed to display? And how do we know?
God Displays His Son
Product placements get stuff going. Seriously. Ever play with a Wilson brand volleyball or basketball and not think of Tom Hanks? Or how about when Kramer drops a Junior Mint into an open body cavity from an operating view deck? Clearly, when a person of high-recognition or value points to something or name drops something else, we take their valuing as better than ours.
So, what does God value? What does he seek to display?
- Matthew 3:17, “and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.“
- Mark 9:7, “And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
John 3:35, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.”
- John 17:24, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.“
God loves his Son. He is takes pleasure in the Son. God points the disciples to look to Jesus. He has given Jesus all things, and all authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18). He sent his Son into the world that we would look to him and live (John 3:14-15).
And in the believer, the Spirit points us to Jesus (John 16:14), causes us to look like Jesus (Romans 8:29), and causes us to be born again because of his resurrection to love him as Lord (1 Peter 1:3; 1 Corinthians 12:3). “God’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy himself forever,” as John Piper writes.
If God, who is infinitely valuable, beautiful, mighty, supreme, majestic, wise, and lovely, continually displays himself and points us to his Son, shouldn’t that cause us to further seek and press into the majesty of Christ?
It would be a cosmic crime for God to point us to anything less valuable than the most valuable and beautiful thing in the universe! But God, displays the one in whom his soul delights in. The Father’s heart uplifts the Son of God to the world as his Beloved.
God Saved You to Display God
If there was ever a verse that presses into my mind and continues to remind me to preach the gospel, to adore Jesus, and to seek to find my highest delight in Christ, it is the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:16, “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”
God saved me to show himself perfectly patient and supreme by showering the mercy of the cross on me. God now holds up his people whom he gathered as one to reflect the glory of Christ to a dying world that is full of self-glorification.
You exist to glorify God and to enjoy him forever according to the Westminster Catechism. God points to his Son, the Spirit reveals and conforms us to the Son, and we, well, like other stuff too often. So, what is the cure for our love for mud pies over a dream vacation at the beach? The gospel.
The Apex of Christ: the Cross
The peak of what is most beautiful, worthy, beautiful, and excellent, is the cross of Jesus Christ. Why? Because we have committed that cosmic crime of upholding everything else as most excellent. We have other gods, we have other beloveds. We falsely displayed high value on lesser, perishable things. Our hearts leech off of toxins. What promised life and satisfaction has paid us back with the wages of death (Romans 6:23). Oh, what a trade we have done! But, God.
God has sent his Son to be take away the just, righteous anger of God towards sinners who have devalued and passed over the ultimate beauty of the Son of God, by slaying the Son of God. Jesus takes on full humanity and perfectly loves and displays the value of his God and Father. He loves him, he devotes his life to him, and he follows his will to display the excellency of his name.
Then, the Son goes to the cross to bear the wrath of God that he has stored up for us for belittling his glory, fame, beauty, and worth. The Father loves the Son, and God loves the world that he offers up his Beloved Son to all who would have him as their delight and treasure.
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
Jesus propitiates, he absorbs the wrath of God on himself for all who will come to him and embrace him as their chief desire. We show the world, we display the supremacy of Jesus Christ and the beauty of his mercy by turning from the world and turning to embrace God in trust that to have him and be with him ‘is far better.’ (Philippians 1:23)
Christian, you were saved to display the excellency of Christ to a self-glorifying world. God chose you as his mirror to reflect the perfect patience and mercy of the cross, and to live in such a way that Jesus is seen as more valuable and attractive than money, sexual fulfillment, bigger houses, greater paychecks, and all the empty and fading pleasures of the world.
Charles Spurgeon, “Show the world that your God is worth ten thousands worlds to you.”