February 26, 2013Leadership

Should We Be Jealous Like God? -- An Excerpt from The Gospel Project & The Gospel Project Experience

To say The Gospel Project has been a success, would be putting it mildly. Over 400,000 individual participants, 40,000+ groups and 7,000+ churches have already started their journey with The Gospel Project.

And now, I am excited to announce The Gospel Project Experience, a conference on May 17-18 that will focus on the main events of the gospel through times of vibrant worship and engaging messages.

The purpose of The Gospel Project Experience is to walk participants through the entire gospel story (incarnation, life of Christ, death, resurrection, and second coming). J.D. Greear, David Nasser, Trevin Wax, Ken Whitten, and I will each speak on one of those five gospel themes. Also, Matt Boswell will lead worship for the event.

For those of you who are currently using or are considering The Gospel Project, there will be break-out sessions that help train and inform participants on how to get the most out of the Bible study. But even if you are not using The Gospel Project, you are invited to attend. The Experience will inspire you and your congregation to live out the implications of the gospel in your community.

So this week on the blog, I'm giving away two individual and two small group simulcast registrations. That's four winners total.

You can enter to win by leaving a comment below with your name. You may only enter once, and I will choose the winners at random. The deadline to enter is Friday, March 1.

Below is an excerpt from one of The Gospel Project lessons written by Ken Easley, Professor of Christian Studies at Union University.

Should We Be Jealous Like God? -- By Ken Easley

God in His very nature is both holy and righteous. As sinful creatures, we are unholy and unrighteous. Yet the amazing truth is that through Jesus' work on our behalf, we have been declared holy ("saints") and righteous.

But that is not all. We are called to be like our God in these ways! He is holy; therefore, we as His people are to be holy and to pursue holiness. He is just; therefore, we His people are to pursue righteousness in all our dealings, both personally, in our church lives, and in society.

Now, however, we come to God's jealousy. Are we to be jealous or not? What about Paul's teaching that "love does not envy" (1 Cor. 13:4)?

Although jealously is often a negative emotion in human beings, it can have a positive sense. When Paul wrote, "I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy" (2 Cor. 11:2), he meant that he was protective of these believers. He was seeking their honor and welfare.

This is the bridge to understanding God's jealousy. He is concerned with His own honor.

He is concerned when His people give their attention and affection to something or someone other than Himself. Thus, His command for the Israelites not to bow to idols is best understood as God's desire for His people to worship Him wholeheartedly instead of false gods. In Exodus 34:14, Yahweh spoke through Moses:

14 You are never to bow down to another god because Yahweh, being jealous by nature, is a jealous God.

We can think divine jealousy in two ways. First, in humans as well as in God, we can easily distinguish between being jealous of someone and being jealous for someone. Thus, husbands are properly jealous for their wives. (And if the wife is unfortunately giving attention to another man, then the husband may be jealous of the other man and express the jealousy either properly or sinfully.) God is properly jealous for His people, wanting the best for them.

Second, for God, jealousy may also be understood as His continually seeking to protect His own honor.  For humans, this kind of jealousy is wrong. We are to be humble, not proud, not seeking our own glory. But that is because we do not deserve the honor that belongs only to God. It is right for God to seek His own honor, for He alone deserves it.

As believers, we share God's glory only in a secondary and reflected way, as the moon reflects the glory of the sun (2 Cor. 3:18). When we realize that God deserves all the honor and glory from His creation, then His jealousy when His creatures do not seek His glory is perfectly splendid. He is worthy of all praise, and when we realize this, we are near the heart of genuine worship.

So God is jealous for His glory. God loves His people, and He is jealous for them. In His jealous love, He has pursued rebels and turned them into worshipers. This is the motivation for His mission in the world. This is the motivating force for our work in the world: to see the honor of God's name spread ever farther and farther. This compels us forward in doing good and sharing the good news of Jesus to those who have fallen short of the glory of God.

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