There is a concept we have mistakenly bought into as a culture and it is this: That in order to find life & joy, happiness and purpose we must look INWARD. We must make much of ourselves in the way of comfort, pleasure, self-exaltation, self-searching … and that through this we will “find ourselves” and find happiness.
There is a concept central to the gospel. It is quite contrary to the lie we often believe- So foreign to our natural thinking and foreign to our culture that we must intentionally seek out God’s wisdom, lest we forget it’s truth: That God’s chief goal is to make much of Himself. God’s central purpose is to magnify Himself. It is why He sent His Son… For His glory. It is why He blesses us with all He graciously gives… For His glory. And until we get that, until we stop believing that life is about us and our comfort… The life of Christ will never explode in us. We will merely settle for so much less than all that God designed for us.
“Most people do not immediately see God’s passion for the glory of God as an act of love. One reason for this is that we have absorbed the world’s definition of love. It says: You are loved when you are made much of. God’s love for us is not mainly His making much of us, but His giving us the ability to enjoy making much of Him forever. In other words, God’s love for us keeps God at the center. God’s love for us exalts His value & our satisfaction in it. If God’s love made us central and focused on our value, it would distract us from what is most precious; namely, Himself. Love labors and suffers to enthrall us with what is infinitely and eternally satisfying; God. Therefore God’s love labors & suffers to break our bondage to the idol of self and focus our affections on the treasure of God. “
In John 11: 1-6 we see this depicted in the life & death of Lazarus.
“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary & her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’ When He heard this, Jesus said ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it.’ Jesus loved Martha and her sister & Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”
As Piper points out, it is clear that Christ’s intention was not to spare the family grief. He was in no hurry to immediately relieve the grief- which can be seen in the fact that Jesus either let him die (by remaining where we was for 2 more days) or else tarried in raising Lazarus because something more was driving Him. He was motivated by a passion for the glory of God.
How many of us would have thought it cruel for Jesus to allow his dear friend’s brother to die, with-holding His power to heal Lazarus. Many may even see this as harsh and unloving that Jesus did not bring immediate healing to take his friends grief away. Yet as Piper says “This shows how far above the glory of God most people value pain-free lives.” But this is not true love. “Love keeps God central. Because the soul was made for God.”