- (Photo: Passion)
God is the most God-centered person in the universe, says Baptist pastor John Piper. And some people take offense to that.
Addressing more than 21,000 college students at Passion 2010, Piper posed the question on whether Jesus is an egomaniac.
"God demands that we all get on our face and worship Him, admire Him, treasure Him ... and count Him as the supreme value in the universe and He's angry when we don't," the long-time evangelical said Monday at the Atlanta, Ga., conference.
For someone who has never questioned glorifying God, Piper has found that "God's God-centeredness is an unbelievably powerful test of my God-centeredness."
"Do we love for God to love His glory ... or is our vaunted God-centeredness a cloak for self-centeredness by loving a God who is man-centered?" he asked.
A lot of people do not want to go near God who demands worship and praise. Eric Reece of An American Gospel and talk show host Oprah Winfrey are unwilling to draw near to what they see as an egomaniac, Piper listed as some examples.
It was a struggle for C.S. Lewis as well. But the famed author got his breakthrough.
"Wherever you hear God saying 'praise me' what He's really saying is since praise is the completion of pleasure in greatness, please come to the fullness of your joy ... [and] of your satisfaction," Piper explained, citing Lewis' realization.
"If that is called egomania bring it on."
The Baptist theologian added, "You weren't made to be somebody. You were made to know somebody and to be thrilled to know the greatest person in the world as your friend.
"It's counterintuitive at first but when you scratch deeper, it's so right."
We are all sinners, he told the young audience. "You came into the world trading the glory of God for the glory of anything else but God. That belittles the glory of God."
Tying the Gospel message to his talk, Piper explained that when Christ died on the cross, God accomplished two seemingly impossible things: "He vindicated the worth of His glory ... and we've been forgiven."
"The foundation of our salvation is not our worth but God's worth," he stressed.
"There can't be a more solid foundation for our salvation than to know it's not based on my value but on god's infinite value," he said to applause.
Piper made clear that God seeks praise not because He won't be fully God without it, but because people won't be fully happy unless they give it.
"God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is not a needy act of a need ego but an infinite act of giving ... for our enjoyment," he said.
"This is not arrogance; this is grace. This is not egomania; this is love."
College students from 37 countries convened in Atlanta for the four-day Passion 2010 event, which kicked off on Saturday. The Passion movement, which began in 1995, is aimed at seeing college students stake their lives on making Jesus famous and magnifying God.
In addition to Piper, Pastors Andy Stanley and Francis Chan were in the line-up of renowned speakers at the Atlanta conference.
Stanley, who leads North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., addressed the large crowd earlier on Monday reminding them that they will be the next generation of leadership. The question is, what kind of leader will you be, he posed.
Pointing to powerful politicians, popular entertainers and talented athletes who are now known for the "dumb decision" they made rather than their accomplishments, Stanley declared, "It's always a mistake to decide what you want to do before you first determine who you want to be."
While societal pressures and the college environment forces students to decide what they're going to do and their relationships, Stanley exhorted the young generation to first determine who they are going to be on the inside.
Ultimately, who you are on the inside will dictate your success in what you do and who you know, the well-known pastor said.
Passion 2010 concludes Tuesday.