I recently read Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper. A friend of mine suggested to me, since he is a big Piper fan, and so I took his word and read it. It was a very good book and one that pricked me in several areas by using scripture and Piper's own thoughts. One area that I've really been thinking about though is early in the book where Piper discusses magnifying God. He talks about how we're we're supposed to glorify God (which if you know about Piper's theology, he is all about this) not beautify God. He compares it to a telescope as magnifying and I immediately compared it to a painter or artist that is commissioned to paint a beautiful portrait of someone. Not the way they really are, but one for the wall.
So on to my point. We've been reading John for family devotions the past few weeks. Jesus lived his life to be a telescope to the Father. He magnified his Father as a telescope making him more real or up close to the people around him. Throughout John he is always saying things like "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." (John 5:17) Glorifying God by not only explaining that God the Father is always at work, but he was working too. Bringing God into real life.
At the same time, he wasn't skipping over some of the tough subjects about God. He glorified God by not trying to paint God in a light that his disciples, even his friends, wanted to hear. He showed God through his telescope the way God should be shown. He says, after telling his disciples about the bread of life, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe." (John 6:61-64) No bars hold, Jesus chose to explain the reality of God up front to us.
So what does this all mean for me? Reading the book and also reading John, I'm realizing more and more that I should try to glorify and not beautify God. That's what Jesus was doing. As matter of fact, that is what Jesus' whole presence on Earth was, God becoming even more up close and personal. He wasn't trying to give give God's case against Caesar or Baal and doing an advertisement that would run in the Super Bowl to make following Jesus seem the best thing ever. When you think about it, it is ironic to think that I could "paint" God to be something better, bigger, more powerful, exciting, than He really is! However, I can be a telescope that looks out to God and magnifies his awesomeness in the same way that a real telescope shows us galaxies and planets and stars that we can only just see a speck of with the naked eye.