Monday, December 27, 2010

Broken cisterns

"But the most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or anything —strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise... The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game...
My whole, more general difficulty, about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't help doing, about everything else we value.
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are, the delight is incomplete till it is expressed." - C. S. Lewis (Reflections on the Psalms, pp. 93-95)

As Lewis observed, it does not seem strange for us to admire talent, beauty, or to cheer for our favorite sports team. In fact, we do these things spontaneously with hardly a thought. We have a great capacity to praise and admire things we deem worthy. We employ art, song and dance to honor things we rejoice in, and will expend ourselves with great effort to do so.

However, to many, it does indeed seem strange to see someone offer praise to God - the same God who gives us life and sustains it to this very hour. Our culture is embarrassed for anyone who is passionate about Christ. Yet, every other passion, no matter how trivial, is deemed perfectly acceptable. What we desire to praise and admire, what causes us to rejoice, reveals the condition of our heart.

In Heaven God is worshiped because the holy creatures around His throne cannot contain themselves. They see the very face of God and they are filled with awe and joy. If we were not so spiritually dull, if our affections were not so often misplaced, we would joyfully praise God as well.

Something or someone must be preeminent in our heart; if not God, then who or what else? When we refuse to glorify God as God, to recognize Him as preeminent, we will, by default, recognize something or someone else as preeminent.
“for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”   - Jeremiah 2:13

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