Hey, this is John Ortberg. I’m laughing cuz there’s a bird behind me that just keeps squawking like he wants to be on the video, but it’s actually connected with what I want to talk about. Um, fill the day with praise. Fill the day with admiration, expressions of delight in all that is good in beauty in wonder and connect the dots to God. Now I wanna talk about why this matters. One of the things that gets in the way of our life with God is when we misunderstand him. Nancy and I were watching an episode of a game show called family feud. Not longer. We like that show. And one of the questions was name a sin that you could get kicked outta heaven for. And it was really interesting. I think they had interviewed surveyed a hundred people to find out what sin they would name.
The number one they named. You wanna guess having sex didn’t even say that it had to be sex with somebody you weren’t married to just having sex. Get you kicked outta heaven. And I think the next two were, uh, drinking and swearing and it struck me listen to that. If you were to read Jesus where in the world would you get the idea that those would be the top three things that would get you kicked outta heaven? When Jesus was so clear that the basic commandment is love God with all your heart. So mine and strength and love other people love your neighbor as yourself. The failure to love is the opposite of what it is that Jesus commanded and the single topic that he talked about more outside the kingdom of God was the poor and concern for the poor, uh, our problem very often in life, as well as in spiritual life.
Isn’t so much what we don’t know. It’s what we think we know that we’re wrong about. And we have all kinds of misguided ideas and thoughts, particularly when it comes to God. And so I wanna talk about one of those today and that has to do with worship or praise. We’ve been going through CS Lewis’s screw tape letters, and he talks a lot about how the battle, uh, to try to pry people away from God, begins with our ideas, thoughts on our minds. This is, uh, from another book of Lewis’s, but it’s about this issue of praising God. He says when I first began to draw near to belief in God, and even for some time after it had been given to me, I found the stumbling block in the demand. So glamorously made by all religious people that we should praise God still more in the suggestion that God himself demanded it.
We all despise the person who demands, continued assurance of his own virtue intelligence or delightfulness. We despise still more the crowd of people around every dictator, every millionaire, every celebrity who gratify that demand folks write sometimes about the difference between conditional esteem. Somebody who feels good about themselves only when they’re being propped up by circumstances or other people as opposed to authentic esteem, which is based on something solid lasting, thus a picture at once, ludicrous and horrible, both of God and his worshipers threatened to appear in my mind, the Psalms were especially troublesome in this way. Praise the Lord. Oh, praise the Lord with me. Praise him. And why Lewis writes. Incidentally did praise in God. So often consistent telling other people to praise him, even in telling whales, snowstorms, et cetera, to go on doing what they would certainly do. Whether we told them to or not, where still was the statement put into God’s own mouth.
Whoever offers me thanks and praise. He honors me. It was hideously like saying what I want most is to be told that I am good and great. And of course, of course Lewis asks who could love a God. If God was like that, nobody could. And to make it worse, sometimes we will hear preachers say things like don’t question God, just do it. God commands it. Or even saying things like God does everything for God’s glory. And therefore glorify him as though God is somehow concerned about making sure that he gets the credit. Nobody else does.
The there have been fascinating, uh, podcasts episodes on the rise and fall of Mars hill. And one of the observations made in those podcasts is many, many people would prefer to have a narcissist as a pastor for their church or many people would prefer to have a narcissist as president of the country. And I’m not talking about politics now left or right. There’s something about the charisma power arrogance of a certain kind of figure that it’s possible for us to feed off of. And then we can project that onto God. God is not a narcissist.
So why is it? The praise is so important? Well, Lewis goes on to talk about the role appraisal everyday life. What do we mean when we say a picture is admirable? We certainly don’t mean that it’s admired. That says may be for bad work. He’s admired by thousands and good work might be ignored nor that it deserves admiration. In the sense that a student deserves a high mark from the examiners, that is that a human being will have suffered injustice. If it is not awarded the sense in which the picture deserves or demands admiration is rather this, that admiration is the correct adequate or appropriate response to it. That if paid admiration will not be thrown away and that if we do not admire, we should be stupid insensible and great losers. We shall have missed something in that way. Many objects, both in nature and in art may be said to deserve or merit or demand admiration.
It was from this angle, which may seem to some irreverent that I found it best to approach the idea that God demands praise. He is that object to admire which, or if you like to appreciate, which is simply to be awake, to have entered the real world, not to appreciate which is to have lost the greatest experience and the in, in the end to have lost all the incomplete and crippled lives of those who are tone deaf, never known true friendship, never cared for a good book, never enjoyed the feel of morning air on their cheeks. Never. I am one of these. He says enjoyed football are faint images of it. In other words, we need to give worship. God does not need to receive it. God is not needy. God is not a narcissist and God is not needy. The miserable idea that God should in any sense, need or crave for our worship, like a vain movie star wanting compliments or a vain author presenting his books to people who never met or heard of him is implicitly answered by the words.
This is from Psalm 50, where God says, if I were hungry, I would not tell you even if such an absurd deity could be conceived. And of course the ancients did conceive of needy deities. That’s all they knew. That’s the idea. God is trying to wean people off of even if such an absurd deity could be conceived. He would hardly come to us. The lowest of rational creatures to gratify his appetite. I don’t want my dog to bark approval of my books. Now that I come to think of it. There are some humans whose enthusiastically favorable criticism would not gratify me much, but the most obvious fact about praise, whether of God or anything strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment approval of giving of honor, I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought the check it, the world rings with praise lovers, praising their mistresses readers, praising their favorite poets. Walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game. Praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humbles and at the same time, most balanced and capacious minds praise most while the cranks misfits mal content, praise, least.
And then this amazing sentence except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere. Praise almost seems to be inner health made audible praise almost seems to be inner health made audible because when we find something worthy, something admirable, our experience of it is not fully complete until we have expressed praise of it. And if that’s something is a person we wanna express that praise, not just generally, not just to others, but to the person herself or himself. So today fill the day with praise. Find that, which is good. If this is the day where there is sadness or suffering in your life, it may be that praised as more important on this kind of day than any other time, because praise is not chirpy. It is not saccharin. It is rooted in reality. There is goodness all around us and the brokenness that is there is being redeemed by God.
So today don’t walk around on autopilot. Don’t live with the blinders of all that I have to do or all that I carry today. Notice that all that is good. You have a body. You live on this earth. There is music. There are bird singing. You had food to eat today. Maybe you had a bed to sleep in, maybe clothes to wear some vehicle to ride in some house, to live in friends, the scripture to learn from and especially think about God who has created each one of these good gifts. Every good and perfect gift comes from above from the father of all lights, but a good God. He must be praise is inner health, made audible be healthy, make it a great one.