It's Not About Us!
2 Cor. 3:18
We should never be guilty of making worship more about ourselves than God.
How many times have you left a worship service only to complain, "I didn't get anything out of it today!"
We make statements that are so self-centered as if worship is all about us:
"Why can't we sing more of the songs that I like?"
"I don't think the preacher should talk about this or that!"
"I can't believe so-and-so didn't talk to me today!"
"No one ever notices what I do in the church."
We must remember that worship isn't about getting anything -- it's about giving everything to God!
Our self-centered attitudes causes us to be idle judges of activity,
rather than active participants in worship of the most holy God.
Warped Christian goals defines the quality of our worship by the number of ministries for people,
the size and quality of our buildings, the popularity of our pastors,
the style of our music and an obvious determination to make people happy.
One concern emerges as primary: "What have you done for me lately?"
Sad to say that we still fall short of making everyone happy, and God is disgusted
with our obvious worship of and preoccupation with ourselves.
One pastor has said: "Our efforts to be seeker-sensitive and self-sensitive have made us insensitive
to the Divine Presence who is to be the focus of our worship."
Or, as the apostle Paul said, we have "exchanged the truth of God for a lie,
and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator" (Romans 1:25).
Personal struggles, selfish ambitions, bickering among God's people and worship wars
are all indications that we desperately need to return to the heart of worship.
Doing so requires recognizing who we are in light of who God is and seeking to exalt Him to His rightful place
in our lives, our families and our church.
Paul gives us several realities that point us to the heart of worship.
First, we must remember that our greatest privilege Is to receive Christ as our Lord and Saviour.
2 Corinthians 3:18 begins: "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord."
Notice the two phrases -- "with unveiled face, beholding" and then "the glory of the Lord."
Through Christ, the veil, which covers the glory of the God, is removed.
As we see in John 1:14 which states:
"The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory,
glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."
In the person of Jesus Christ, we behold the glory of God continually.
The background for that statement is found in Exodus 33,
where Moses meets with the Lord on Mount Sinai after the people of Israel committed idolatry.
In doing so, he saw the glory of God.
Why does Paul use the imagery of an "unveiled face" beholding the Lord here in 2 Corinthians 3:18?
After seeing the glory of God, Exodus 34:29-30 reveals:
"It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai . . . that Moses did not know
that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him.
So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone,
and they were afraid to come near him."
So, the Bible says in Exodus 34:33, "When Moses had finished speaking with them,
he put a veil over his face."
Throughout 2 Corinthians 3, Paul offers his commentary on this incident.
Notice 2 Corinthians 3:7: "But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory,
so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses
because of the glory of his face, fading as it was."
2 Corinthians 3:13 says that we "are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face
so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away." .
Moses was in the presence of God for a limited time, thus the glory of God faded.
But Christians abide in the presence of God forever; and the glory never fades.
Verse 18 proclaims "with unveiled face" we are beholding "the glory of the Lord."
It is a privilege to receive Christ because that we are in Him, we behold the glory of God continually.
Moses understood that leading the people on their journey was impossible without the presence of God.
So, in Exodus 33:15 he says, "If Your presence does not go [with us,] do not lead us up from here."
That lesson is powerful -- having God is better than having what God gives.
Seeing God in all His glory is the primary goal of worship.
It's not about how we do or don't feel.
The privilege of Christianity is God Himself.
Beholding His glory must be our agenda.
Our tendency to make worship about ourselves is not new as we see in 2 Corinthians 3:15
which describes the religious leaders of Jesus' day this way:
"But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart."
In other words, you can't see the glory of God and worship yourself at the same time.
2 Corinthians 3:16 presents a better alternative:
"whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."
Focusing our hearts on Christ is the solution.
We must beware of subtle diversions that diminish God rather than exalt Him.
We trivialize God when:
We evaluate the worship of others rather than express worship ourselves.
We seek to attract people rather than God.
We esteem our importance as more valuable than His presence;
We no longer stand in awe of His glory because we think we comprehend all there is to know about Him;
and our greatest concern is making people comfortable when we worship.
The real question is not what do we think of God, but what does God think of us?
Some years I read of an analogy about the heart of worship.
He said: "The University of Kentucky basketball team won the national championship a couple of years ago.
A few days later there was a celebration in the Rupp Arena to honor the team.
The audience cheered wildly for each player when he was introduced.
The fans carried banners.
They painted their faces and proudly wore blue-and-white outfits.
They tried to get autographs.
Not one fan walked away saying, 'That event was a dud. It did nothing for me.'
The event was a success, not because the performance was great (they didn't play basketball at all)
or the players' speeches were inspiring (most of them weren't very good speakers),
but because everyone understood why they were there.
The purpose was not to please the fans but to honor the team.
People walked away saying, 'That was great! I hope the team understands how much we appreciate them!'"
In a similar way, authentic worship is our attempt to communicate how much we admire,
adore and appreciate Jesus Christ.
The purpose of our life is to reflect Jesus Christ.
Just as Moses reflected the glory of God after meeting with Him, we, too, reflect His glory
by meeting with Him in worship.
Notice another phrase in 2 Corinthians 3:18: "beholding as in a mirror."
The verb translated "beholding" can also be translated "reflecting."
So, which is the better rendering of the two?
We understand Paul to mean beholding and reflecting.
The passive and middle forms of the verb literally mean "to be mirrored."
So we behold the glory of God as if we are looking in a mirror.
We look closely, examining carefully the glory we see.
By doing so, we see God's glory and out of necessity reflect it.
Therefore Paul uses the analogy of a mirror.
We see it and reflect it as a mirror of God's image.
Moses' face shone because he reflected the presence of God.
Likewise, we reflect the glory of God when we behold Jesus Christ.
However, the one difference is that the reflected glory of God in us never fades
because the purpose of the Christian life is to display Jesus.
We exist as heaven's advertising agency, promoting the glory of God in every area of our lives.
We know that advertising companies don't exist to make names for themselves.
Their purpose is to make a name for others.
We could learn a lot from these companies.
What they do for their clients, we should do for Christ."
Like mirrors, we should reflect the glory of the Lord.
The heart of worship demands that we remain unknown in order to make Him know
Every part of our lives is about His glory past, present and future.
God gives us abilities and gifts that we might utilize them to reflect His glory
rather than promote ourselves.
Unfortunately, many times we are more ambitious about building our kingdom rather than God's kingdom.
God does not bless us so that we can compete with Him, but so that we can reflect Him.
The priority of our life is to reflect Jesus Christ.
Notice how 2 Corinthians 3:18 concludes:
"[We] are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."
Notice the progression.
We behold the glory -- we reflect the glory -- we become the glory.
The word, "transformed," indicates the continual nature of our transformation.
The passive tense reveals that someone is doing the transforming for us.
Romans 12:2 marks the only other appearance of this word in reference to a Christian.
There, the Bible says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
In what way are we transformed?
Notice the phrase "into the same image."
The word "image" refers to exact representation.
2 Corinthians 4:4 and Colossians 1:15use the same language while describing Jesus
as the exact representation of God the Father.
Our transformation is "from glory to glory" through various stages of Christlikeness.
In other words, our life's purpose is to resemble Christ more and more each day.
Of course this is a difficult assignment, but notice the last phrase of the verse:
"just as from the Lord, the Spirit."
How can we resemble Christ?
The Holy Spirit transforms us from the inside out.
Moses experienced outward transformation when he saw the glory of God.
Christians enjoy inward transformation when we see the same glory.
Working through His Holy Spirit, God completes the work of salvation in our hearts and lives.
Consequently, worship represents the primary means of our transformation into the image of Almighty God.
We can't be like Christ if we are not reflecting Christ, and we can't reflect Christ
if we don't first behold Christ.
We will not behold Him unless worship becomes the foundation upon which we build our lives for the Lord.
This is what Christianity is all about!
It's not about us!
It's about Him!
There will be a real emptiness in our souls when we allow our worship of God
to focus primarily on our needs and desires.
So, rather than behold Him, we look in the mirror of God's Word with veiled faces;
and all we see is ourselves.
Rather than consider additional ways to worship God individually and corporately,
we selfishly plan how little we can worship God and still call ourselves Christians!
No wonder we're not transformed.
So when we come through the doors of the church on Sunday, we must know what are you bringing
as our offering to God?
What are we going to sacrifice today?
"When the music fades, all is stripped away,
And I simply come; longing just to bring something that's of worth
That will bless Your heart. I'll bring you more than a song,
For a song in itself is not what you have required.
You search much deeper within through the way things appear;
You're looking into my heart.
I'm coming back to the heart of worship,
And it's all about You, all about You, Jesus.
I'm sorry Lord, for the thing I've made it,
When it's all about You, all about You, Jesus."
-- By Matt Redman
Do you remember Jesus' words to a Samaritan woman in John 4:23?
He said, "An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth;
for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers."
God is seeking people who will worship Him more than anyone or anything else.
Are you willing to be that kind of Christian?
Is God's glory more important to you than anything else?
Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White