Okay, that sounds harsh. The idea that Jesus cares more about His Kingdom than He does about our happiness or ease or well-being. It sounds almost like Jesus doesn't even love us or at the very least, like we're just pawns He's playing with in this game called life. Like He's just using us to advance His Kingdom - you know, that thing He really cares about and well, if that's the case, then it doesn't seem like He cares about us at all. Not really.
And that just shows you how far our Christianity has gotten this twisted. The very notion that we would be offended that our God cares about His glory more than ours tells us all we need to know about how wrong we're getting this.
The difference is really a subtle one, so it's easy to see how we can get it twisted, especially when our minds are so bent toward ourselves. The Kingdom of God is for us; He has given His promise for us, created an eternity for us, sent His Son to die for us. But the Kingdom of God is not about us; it is and always has been about Him.
And it should be. Not only should it be, but we need it to be.
We have absolutely nothing to gain if our God is so small that we are His primary concern. We have nothing to gain if our God only throws Himself into making our lives better by our standards. It is of no benefit to us if the God of the universe thinks we, individually, are the universe.
Sorry, but God did not speak into the darkness and void just so that you can overcome all the things that hold you back. You can overcome all the things that hold you back because God spoke into the darkness and void. Don't even forget that.
We need a God who is bigger than our lives. We need a God who cares about more than our comfort and happiness. We need a God who is glory...and a God who is glorified. We need God to demonstrate, above all other things, that He is actually God. That He is the God who created the universe and put us in it so that He could love us. That He is the God who is worthy of our lives. We need a God whose holiness demands our worship...not a God who worships us.
We've forgotten this in all of our individualized, self-centered "worship." We've forgotten this as we've continued to think that the most important thing about God is...us. And it's no wonder we're losing sight of Him. It's no wonder we can't figure out any more who He really is.
For generations, we have sung "Jesus loves me," and this has become the heart of our relationship with Him. But what it's done is that it's put us in the center of His universe and if we're the center of His universe, then God Himself is pushed out to the edges. All of a sudden, then, love doesn't come from the center; it comes from the edges. And just like that, it's too easy to push out altogether. Because this is our universe, right? We are the center of it.
Wrong, of course, but our natural instinct is to say that if God doesn't love us that much, if God doesn't love us enough that we are the center of His universe, then God must not love us at all. Then we start to grumble and pout and kick our feet in the dust, the very same dust that He drew together to create us at all. Lest we've forgotten.
But the truth is that it's because God loves us that He doesn't put us at the center of His universe. It's because He loves us that He demands to be the center of it Himself. He wants to, and needs to, be the thing at the heart of it all. He needs to be in the place where all things revolve around Him, not us. He needs to be the place where we come in from the edges, drawn to something so firmly grounded, so perfectly rooted in the beginning, where the darkness and void once were.
That's the only way this works. That's the only way that any of this works. That's why it's not harsh to say that Jesus's primary focus was not our happiness or our comfort or even our victory; it was, and always has been, His Kingdom and God's glory.
And we need it to be that way.