I recently read an article about Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. Let me read the opening paragraph:
“Fact: Steve Jobs didn’t become successful overnight.It took years of hard work, determination, and perseverance to build Apple into the company that it is today. When you take a step back from your MacBook (and put down your iPhone), and really think about all that he accomplished, it’s beyond remarkable. He changed the way we live.”
It’s pretty incredible the mark that he left on this earth. He was driven by the vision he had for his company. One of his rather well known quotes, I think, describes what we know of Steve Jobs: a driven man, pursuing something he loves, and doing anything he can to accomplish it.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
Each and everyone of us has taken different paths to get to where we are today. Some of us went to college, some of us went to technical school, some entered the military, some landed a great job early on and excelled there, some of you had great careers goals, but made a decision to be a stay at home mom – taking probably the hardest job of all.
And in the midst of this searching, what we see is there is a deeper pursuit – the pursuit of happiness. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who’s desire in life is to be sad all day. We are looking for something to make us happy. So we look for happiness in the right job, a hobby, a television show, our kids and our spouse, in friendships, in food and drinks (“All I need is Jesus and coffee”), in a new home/car, a bigger television, a vacation, and then we may take it to a darker place and look for happiness in sex, alcohol abuse, or drugs.
Unfortunately, no matter where or who we look to for happiness, I believe we can all honestly say that we’ve been let down by each of these things. Our kids, as much as we love them, are not perfect and don’t always draw out happiness. The same goes with our spouses, jobs, hobbies, and the list goes on.
But what if there is something more? What if Steve Jobs is wrong? What if there is something greater that brings perfect joy and satisfaction? What if that something is a someone and what if that someone is Jesus? What if we started pursuing true joy and true happiness that only Jesus provides?
The early church in Acts 2 has taught us that we gather together around the centrality of the gospel. We’ve seen them demonstrate this by going and making disciples, by gathering and in living in community, and through their generous giving and humble serving. But those things just didn’t happen. they did these things because they were awed by God.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
What led this church to do the great things that it accomplished was nothing more than an awe for what God had done. I think it is very easy to get focused on good things within the church and make them important things. There is only one important “thing” and that is God. When we substitute awe for God with awe for anything else, we’ve missed what we have been created for. We’ve missed our purpose.
The early church had an immense awe for God and what I mean by “awe” is a “reverent fear”. They were mesmerized and humbled by the gracious works they had seen him do in their community. But if we look deeper, their awe didn’t start when they saw God do incredible works, their awe for God came from when they saw God himself.
You see, we can look around and see the people who have been changed by the gospel within our church. We can celebrate it and praise God for it. That should stir our hearts to have an awe for what God has done. But what is really going to stir our hearts is when we become “awed” over who God is.
Author and Theologian D.A. Carson states, “What ought to make worship delightful isn’t its novelty or aesthetic beauty, but its object: God himself is delightfully wonderful” (emphasis mine).
But as we’ve already stated, despite knowing what God has done, despite seeing how God has worked in and around us, and despite what we’ve heard from God through his Word, we search for awe and pleasure in other places. “The great war of wars”, Paul Tripp States, is “in the heart of the sinner where awe for God is very quickly replaced by awe of self”.
If we truly desire to grow in our faith, then we first must examine what has captured our awe.
I believe we should do an inventory of our hearts. What has captured our awe? What are we passionate about? Where do we send out money? What do we have to have or else life is empty? Who has to have our attention? These questions reveal to us what has captured the awe of our hearts.
What has captured your heart? If it’s not God, then it’s time to repent and kill the idols that have stolen our awe. It’s time to turn our eyes on Jesus. It’s to remember Psalm 34:8 and how we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. Our hearts should be captured by the one who desires to save us from our sins and to make us like his Son.
So fill in the blank. I’m awed by ____________.
And if Jesus is down the list of what you would place in that blank, then you have more than likely discovered an idol that has captured you awe.
Our hearts are always captured by something—that’s how God made us. But sin threatens to distract us from the glory of our Creator. All too often, we stand in awe of everything but God. – Paul Tripp
*** This post is an excerpt from a sermon I preached at Grace Life on 10/15/17. You can listen to the sermon here.