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The Call to Glorify God

We have stated that the primary purpose of human beings is to enjoy God and to glorify him. We have also spent a considerable amount of time explaining what it means to ‘enjoy’ God. But in this post, we are going to discuss what it means to glorify God. Perhaps, this post is the longest one I have written thus far, but it will be worth every bit of your time.

So, what does it mean to glorify God? It is a call to pleasure God deliberately. Purposeful and intentional life of praise and honor to God, that’s what it is all about. To understand this even more, let’s go back and meet Adam way back in Eden. How did he glorify God? Looking at the amazing life this man and his wife lived before the great Fall, it is possible to see that Adam lived a life of intentional praise and honor to God.

Surrender In Worship
Here is the very first thing he did which pleasured God very much: he was available for fellowship with Deity, with God himself. This is enjoying God and the wonders of his person. This is the greatest we can do to glorify him. The deliberate pursuit for the Divine Presence comes with deliberate worship; a heart joyfully bowed and yielded to the will of the Almighty God. Our supreme call is a call to fellowship with God, and as we fellowship, worship Him who is the maker of the universe.

He can do without our worship, but he chooses to have it. In fact, he demands our worship. Yes, the one who gave us all of himself ( Father, Son and Spirit) demands that we give him our all ( spirit, mind, will, intellect, emotion, and body). “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4: 23-24, NIV.

The other things Adam did was to live his life following the divine instructions he has been given. There are a few of them we see in Genesis chapters one and two.

Stay in the garden:
God has a specific garden that he plants and puts each of us in. He did the same thing for Adam, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it”, Genesis 2: 15. This garden is first a physical location. It is Eden, and its borders where clearly specified in Scriptures: “ The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 1The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates” Genesis 2: 8-14, NKJV. There is a location that God intends for each of us. It is there that he visits with us, as he did with Adam. That location may change with time, but if it does, it is only because he gave a fresh instruction to relocate. God’s manifested presence has something to do with the location, the meeting place.

It is important for us then to stay located in the place God has specified. This in itself is glorying God. There may not seem to be a lot of tangible resources in the place God locates us, but then, who makes all resources? God is not limited by physical or human resource capabilities. In the case of Adam, he made Eden thoroughly fitted with almost everything Adam would need before He put Adam in there. Then as Adam stayed in there and had fellowship with God, God gave him a companion that best fits him, Eve. But in the case of Elijah, God sent him to the brook Cherit, and it was as he obeyed and stayed there that the birds brought him food. Are you where God has located you? That in itself is an act of worship, a deliberate step to glorify God; it is a sign that we recognize him as all wise, all loving and all powerful, and yield thus to him.

Tend the garden:
Adam was not only to stay in the garden, he was to tend it. It was an act of worship. As he tended the garden God planted, he was honoring the God who planted it. He was acting in God’s stead to care for what God would have cared for. His tender care of the garden was Adam’s way of acknowledging that:
1)Tthe garden was important to God. How can he claim to respect God but despise what is important to God? That will not be honoring to God.
2) He was a co-laborer with God, a participant in God’s affairs
3) It was an act of obedience that says ‘I will do what God tells me to do”. It shows that Adam was not in charge, God was.

Are you tending the garden God has given to you? Remember the garden may not even be spiritual, as in the case of Adam where the garden was a physical garden. Your garden may be a job or business. How are you tending it? Taking bribes, getting there late and leaving early, and being a bully to everyone that works with you? Your garden may be a church congregation. How are you tending it? By being more concerned about their tithes and offerings than you are about the individuals, or by telling them to do one thing while you do another, or by treating some members with preference over others because they are wealthy or politically influential? The thing to remember is that if God gave you the garden to tend, then that garden is really important to him, and it belongs to him. One day, he is going to demand we be accountable to him. But the exciting thing about tending the ‘garden’ is that it presents us a wonderful opportunity to show God how much we love him, and worship and glory him

Don’t eat the forbidden fruit:
I don’t know exactly what this forbidden fruit is, but one thing I know is that God has a right to tell us which fruit we should not eat. Why? Because he is God, period. After all, he did give Adam enough fruits in the garden to keep him busy all his life if all he did was eat one fruit after another. But God must set boundaries. True love creates boundaries. Boundaries are the barriers that love sets up to prevent its focus from being hurt. Thus a caring mother sets boundaries for her toddler, to prevent him from harm. An all permissive society is a godless society, for in a godly environment, boundaries exist. Removal of boundaries is an invitation to anarchy. True freedom constrains, humbles and directs.

On the continuum of maturity, there is the initial childhood stage of reckless abandon to do whatever the child wills. Immediate gratification rules in the child’s world. Self-control is not only lacking, it is all together alien to the child. He cries and kicks if he does not have his own way, right here and now. But as the child grows, he learns that he must not always have his way, or that certain gratifications could be delayed for long term goals, with the help of parents and school workers of course. As a result, he learns to forgo play for homework, for example, because he wants to pass his exams later in the semester. Then, as he goes away to college, he has his ‘freedom’. There are no parents to tell him what to do; even his college professors respects his ‘rights’. Now, he is a free man, he could do anything he wants. But he soon realizes that freedom comes with a price, a necessary burden - vigilance. It is up to him now whether he succeeds in life or fails. No one tells to do it, but as he matures, he learns to do without many things, only a few years ago, he thought he could never do without. He imposes more restrictions on himself, exercises more self-discipline than anyone else could have done for him. Then one day, he marries, bears children and now he his heart aches as he tries to teach his own children that you can’t have freedom without boundaries.

God’s man, Adam, must also know the ‘burden of freedom’, the price of vigilance, the value of responsibility. He could enjoy God’s life, his love, his wealth, everything. But he must also learn to stay away from just one fruit if he must continue to enjoy all those. It was a divine trust in man, a rare opportunity for Adam to have honored God. Well, you know the sad story; Adam did eat that same forbidden fruit. The result was not only that he lost the life of God in him, he also became naked, empty and vulnerable; and had to be sent out of the garden. We honor God simply by staying away from the forbidden fruit. The forbidden fruit may be sex before marriage. It may appear so attractive, all your friends may have done it, the world may tell you it is ok to do it, but none of that matter. The one who put you in the garden and gives you freely of all things to enjoy objects to it, and that is the most important thing. The fruit may be the temptation to take bribe, or cheat, or change figures or forge signature, or spend church or company money on you. It doesn’t matter what the particular forbidden fruit is, the important thing is that it is forbidden. If you stay away from it, you honor God. That is what you are called to do, that is what your life, like mine, is all about. We may lose money, miss promotion or be ridiculed, but what does that matter? As long as we are pleasing the one who planted the garden in the first place, no good thing will he withhold from us. “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly”, Psalm 84:11, NKJV.

Furthermore, this matter of the forbidden fruit is even more troublesome than we realize. When we eat the forbidden fruit, not only do we disobey and dishonor God, we actually worship and honor the devil. That is what happened when Adam ate the forbidden fruit; he obeyed and honored the devil. “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living” Romans 6: 16, NLB. No wonder, God sent him out of the garden. How can you be in another man’s garden and still be obeying his enemy’s voice. The danger of eating the forbidden fruit is two-fold: we could lose favor with God, and lose the garden itself. Are you misusing the money and opportunities and congregations God gave you? Then beware, because, soon, you could lose it all, including God.

Be fruitful:
‘Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”’ Genesis 1: 28, NKJV. Right in Eden God gives a specific instruction: be fruitful. Bear fruit. No way around it. God has planted trees already, but there are other trees to be planted. There are other kinds of fruits to be borne. You see, it is glorifying to God when we bear fruit. “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father” John 15: 8 NLT. Those words are from Jesus Christ himself, did you notice? Being fruitful is not the prerogative of a privileged few; it is for everyone who wants to discover and live their purpose. Begin where God has placed you. Bear fruit of joy, love, kindness, honesty, faith.

To ‘bear fruit’ means to be productive. Are you adding to the ‘garden’ or subtracting from it? What contributions are you bringing to your workplace, to your church, to your family, to your spouse? Since you became manager or supervisor, what positive additions have you brought to bear on the organization? Or have the organization, even if it is a church, made more money by dubious means, by stepping over people’s heads, by bribery, and lowering of standards?

There is also another dimension to fruit-bearing. And that is about bearing fruit in your own personal life. Are you being personally productive? Are you better today than you were ten years ago? In what specific ways have you improved your life over the past fives years for example? Have you learnt any new skills since the last 20 years or so? Please bear in mind that these kinds of positive improvements do not necessarily need to be done by enrolling in a university for a new degree. Sometimes, being fruitful and growing does require going back to school. But many times, you can change your life by reading one good book at home and acting on it. Sometimes, all it takes is to ask a friend or spouse to hold you accountable to improving your life, or to stop that bad habit. Other times all it takes is a decision, say, a decision to be whole and in harmony with God and with yourself; to live worthily and accurately. This personal growth may just be a decision to not shove and push and maneuver your way through life, whether it is at the bus-stop or at work, at home or even at church. That change in itself is a most worthy fruit in itself; it enriches your personal life and opens opportunities for you. But the greatest motivation should be the knowledge that you are glorifying God when you choose to grow, to increase in a healthy manner, to be ‘fruitful in all good works’.

Being fruitful is good but there is something even better. It is taking the good fruit that you have borne and multiplying it so that more people could benefit from it. It is taking the fruit that has blessed you and making it into a blessing too to other people around you.

Over many years, I have given attention to the question: how can we discover God’s purpose for our lives, fulfill it, glorify God and live to our maximum potential? I have read the bible with this goal in mind. I remember the very first bible I used after I gave my heart to Jesus Christ in 1987. I was so hungry for divine truth that I marked most verses as they were illuminated in my heart, especially the New Testament. I have also read many leadership and self-help books and many Christian books in search of the chief purpose of man and how he could truly glorify God and fulfill his life assignment. Over those years, I have grown some. I have made changes in my life that has moved me forward. I made discoveries that made me sing, dance and change. I can’t forget the day in 2000 in a small town in Southwest of Nigeria called Sagamu, when , while reading ‘The Hidden Man’ by E.W. Kenyon, life and light came flooding my soul, and I fell on the floor for hours in worship as God’s primary purpose for me became so clear. Just one book, but God used it to change my life. That was growth, bearing fruit on a personal level.

But out of that one book ( in unison with all the other things I have been thought by many teachers and mentors, of course), came messages to my congregation, seminars, and tracts; which took what was essentially my personal discovery and transformed it into a form that other people could use them and be blessed by them. That is what ‘to multiply’ may mean in one sense. Let’s say, as a matter of illustration, that you made a personal decision to live whole and pursue only that which is whole and wholesome. Over time, you see how this decision has shaped and enriched the quality of your life, and gave you a sense of wholeness you have never known before. You have been fruitful and productive, even if it is only on a personal level. Ok, let’s say you then choose to reproduce this ‘fruit’ in your family, or congregation or fellow workers, and equip them to teach the same principle to other people. You are beginning to multiply. But keep in mind that your chief goal is to honor God and glorify him. The fruits we bear and the fruits we multiply serve to honor and glorify God. They show our desire to take seriously what he has committed into our hands.

Fill the earth:
God is in heaven but he has given us the whole earth. Any person who wants to fulfill his life destiny must think in terms of the whole earth at some point or the other. Adam must begin with the garden in Eden, a rather limited place, but he must continue to grow and multiply until Eden could no longer hold his fruits. God puts us in a particular ‘garden’ at a particular time, but he does expect that we outgrow that garden until the whole earth becomes our mandate.

The earth is important to God. He worked long and hard to make it beautiful. And then on the evening of the sixth day of creation, he made man. After that, God took a ‘vacation’; he rested. The reason he rested was that he has found human being, this amazing new species of being who is equipped with all it will take to take care of the earth. God has confidence in you and me. God took a ‘vacation’ because he knows Adam was in the garden, and by extension, in the earth. What an amazing trust.

God has always chosen to co-work with mere mortals in the things that concern this earth. “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building” 1 Corinthians 3:5 -10. Even in the work of creation, he left some things for man to finish up. Think about cars, electricity, houses etc. These were man’s ‘creation’ out of the things that God has already made. Imagine the great privilege God gave us to fellowship with him in bringing other human beings to life. It is so amazing that it blows the mind: that God wanted Adam and Eve to bring other God-friends, human beings into life. Or, in the New Creation era, think about Jesus leaving only a bunch of Jewish men to bring the rest of the world into salvation that cost his life. ‘And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”’ Matthew 28; 18-19.

I don’t know about you, but I shudder each time I read that. What if these feeble men failed him, just like Adam did? That is how much God trusts you, to take the gift or life he has given you and use it and multiply it until it fills the whole earth. None of us has any excuse. If these twelve men did it, we can do it too, after all, it is God himself who works in us all both to will and to do his good pleasure according to Philippians 2: 13:“For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”. They were mainly uneducated. They did not have political power, or even economic power for that matter. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” Acts 4:13. They did not have any god-fathers. In fact, the god-fathers in the land were out to get them. The odds were stacked heavily against them. But they had Jesus on their side. They did not only have his promise to them, ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world’; they had also been with him. The key to filling the earth with our ‘fruit’ is to be with Jesus Christ. That means fellowship with God in prayer, praise, holiness, and in the Word.

You may not be highly educated; Thomas Edison was not. You may not be very wealthy; but then, Mother Theresa was not. You may not have any god-fathers or god-mothers; you are not alone, John Bunyan wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress in prison because the god-fathers of his land were against him. But if you are willingly to walk with God and be faithful and patient, he will take your fruit, multiply it and fill the earth with it.

However, it is important to remember the trend here, God did ask Adam to visit every nation on earth in order to ‘fill the whole earth’. But He did say that Adam’s seed or his fruit should fill the whole earth. I don’t think Thomas Edition ever visited Nigeria before his death, but his fruit, the electric filament, fills this nation. Peter and the rest of the Apostles did not visit all the world in person, but their seed, the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, did. Sometimes, we spend more time trying to run away into the entire world rather than filling the whole world with our fruits. God gives us an Eden, and expect that we fill not only Eden but the whole earth with our good fruits.

It is helpful to notice that this ‘fruit’ , as much as it could certain mean other things, refers mainly to persons, human beings. ‘Why is that so?’ you ask. Human beings are more important to God than any other thing in this universe. You matter dearly to God. He wants more of us; Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Aborigines etc. In a literal sense, then, God wants us to fill the earth with godly children that grow up to honor him and fellowship with him. With all the talk today about the right to abort babies or the right live and marry as homosexuals, it is important to remind ourselves that part of God’s purpose for us all is to be fruitful, and as a group, fill the earth with other worthy human beings who honor God. If we start aborting our babies or start living as homosexuals, we certainly dishonor God, and live contrary to his glorious purpose for us. So, while we extend this ‘fruit’ to include other forms of productiveness, we must not lose sight of the fact that, primarily, God’s instruction is to fill the earth with godly ‘seeds’, that is, human beings. Of course, there is a place for planning and wisdom in the number of children that we bear; so that we can raise them up with enough resources to help them become the kind of persons God intends them to be.

What has God given you? It’s time to fill the earth with it. Bear fruit, then multiply your fruit. But don’t stop there, go all way and fill the earth with your fruit. If you ask God and stay long enough with Jesus Christ, he will show you how and when to do it. But we must keep this in perspective. It is all about glorifying God with our lives, giving him praise by being faithful, honoring him as we care for the whole earth he made; telling him it is ok for him to ‘rest’; that his confidence in us is not misplaced.

Share Companionship:
The last mandate God gave Adam was a spouse, someone to share his life with. Companionship. God expected Adam to glorify him by accepting his diagnostic that he, Adam, needed the ‘other’ to be whole. ‘And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”’ Genesis 2: 18-23.

Imagine how busy Adam was, so busy he did not even realize his need, a fitting companionship. But let’s just suppose for the sake of this piece, that when God brought Eve to him, Adam was to argue that he didn’t think he needed her. After all, he was getting the job done alright without her. He would have utterly dishonored God if he said that. Eve was God’s addition and complement to Adam’s life. God knows our needs much more. God wants us to honor him in the family life, by being a family and caring for the family.

Three kinds of family:
There are three kinds of family God expects us to honor him by. The first one is the natural family- Husband, wife and children. Family is important to God. Do you know that just by marring and producing godly seeds you are glorifying God? It is a most sacred opportunity to partner with God in bring living souls into being. Pause to think about that. And as those kids grow up to fear and honor God, you are a part of that wonderful plan.

The other family is the church. By church here, is meant both the body of Christians in general, wherever they are found all over the world; and the local congregation of Christians who assemble regularly to worship God through Jesus Christ. It honors God for you to belong to a local congregation that assembles in the name of Jesus Christ in truth and in spirit. Being a part of the body pleasures God. That is why Jesus came, to have a body, one body: the Lord and his people joined together as one. In becoming a Christian, you become a member of the Body, a part of Christ. You also complete this divine plan when you join together with the rest of the Body, the church. We should take the pressure and performance out of church. It is a place to worship God, and share fellowship with Christ and his people. Fellowship is a word we need to recapture in our churches, in its truest essence. The world is hurting, they need a place where they can be authentic without being rejected, vulnerable without being abused; a place to be loved and cared, not fleeced, like the rest of the capitalist world, a place to find rest for their weary soul. God made such a place in this world. It is called Church. Let’s take the pressure of money and showmanship out of church. It’s time to keep it simple and real.

The third kind of family is the human family. There is a sense in which both Christians and non-Christians are the same: we live together in this one planet called earth, and we are all sinners who must be saved only by the grace of God alone. We share similar trials, pains and triumphs. It’s high time we started acting live we are brothers and sisters. It’s time we began asking God to give us a love for the human family. God loves the whole world, sinners or not. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” John 3: 16-17. Persons who have accepted Christ into their hearts do not belong to this world any more in the sense that God expects them to live a higher life, of worth and integrity. However, Christians are also asked by God to be the ‘salt’ and the ‘light’ of the world. In other words, God wants us to care about the world he gave us, the people around us, whether they are believers or not. To show some decorum, respect to others even if they are of a different faith, religion, nationality or race. Imagine if we honored God this way- Muslims and Christians and Jews could live in peace even though they may have different beliefs, racism or ethnicity that plagues nations from US to Nigeria will be at its minimum at least.

It’s time to honor God and pleasure him, by having a healthy respect and love for human family. “From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries” Acts 17: 26, NLT. God cares for every person in the world today. Is it not only logical that one way to show our love and respect for God is to respect and care for what he loves tenderly? We must not get sucked in by the evil ways that abound in our world, but there is certainly a place for a theology that recognizes that human beings, even unsaved human beings, are God's beloved creation which deserves our love.