The Uselessness of God

The Uselessness of God

Men’s ministry this Saturday, 8-10a, breakfast then discussion. The Church in the U.S. still numbers in the 10s of millions of members. Why isn’t she more influential? Are you influential? Also, please join us for Shiv’s ordination service Sunday at 5p, followed by a light dinner.

David wrote Psalm 63 in “the wilderness of Judah,” probably not on the run from Saul, but on the run from Absalom, his own son whom he loved. Imagine it. The kingdom was not only leaderless in that moment, but a hot mess right down to David’s own household. So, in full geopolitical crisis mode, David wrote, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.”

How can even a word of this be considered practical for a man who is a failed king and father? No wonder Joab, a useful man and a fearless warrior, was so often frustrated with David.

But David was far more practical than Joab understood. In a real crisis, what could be more wise than to be bound by love to the One who holds in his hands the hearts of all men (Pr. 21:1), who knows the conclusion of all things even at their beginning (Isa 46:10) and who has power to work all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph 1:11)?

My sense is that a minority of people (and maybe all of us at one time or another) come to worship/church not because their souls thirst for God, but because they hope it will be useful for themselves and for their kids. They have a product in mind. They don’t think of the “steadfast love” of God as better than life, but just the opposite: they hope being in worship will improve their lives. They see worship and church as a kind of life-enhancement for the home, a veiled and subtle self-worship. If you put them in the wilderness, as David was when he wrote, they wouldn’t worship at all. (You can gauge your own heart in this by watching where it turns when you’re on vacation.)

Once God himself is no longer both the reason for and the purpose of our lives, we naturally default to some version of personal utilitarianism. But it can’t satisfy. That’s how Satan cheats us when he turns us to ourselves. You were made, born, created to worship God, to lift your hands to him in your darkest hour and say, “my soul thirsts for you… for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.” Only in giving yourself to him entirely will you find out just how much better than life He actually is.