The central purpose of our existence is to bring glory to God. The first question in the Westminster Catechism is, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” Our purpose is the same that Jesus had. Just before his crucifixion, Jesus was greatly troubled. But still he prayed in John 12:28, “Father, glorify your name.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
The tabernacle was a place designed for the glory of God. When the tabernacle was completed and erected for the first time Exodus 40:34 says, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” Here was a place where people could take their eyes of their problems and focus on the greatness of God. But while doing his spiritual duty, Korah lost sight of his creative purpose. Instead of serving to bring glory to God, he desired more glory for himself.
Here we see the dark side of ministry. As we serve, sacrificing to help others, handling the sacred objects of worship, our Bibles, songbooks,planners, and communion elements, it can become more about us than God. We want to take instead of give the glory to God.
Musicians and creative types have a real struggle with this. I know because I am one. Why wasn’t I asked to sing that song? Why wasn’t I placed at center stage? They always put me on the side where it’s so dark. Why didn’t anyone say how great I sang after the service today? Why won’t they let me play the part I’m hearing in my head instead of confining my creative genius to this third-grade arrangement? I don’t do block chords. Don’t they know I studied Chopin?
I remember the first time the worship team at my dad’s church got an electric guitar player. We were all pumped to finally have some fuzzy power chords. But as it turned it out, he wasn’t as good as he thought he was. We were all eager to help him grow, but he wasn’t teachable. In fact, he insisted on having his Marshall amp at a certain level. Every time we asked him to turn it down so we could dial the mix in better, he got red around the neck.
It’s interesting to note that Korah’s family later demonstrated great songwriting ability. Eleven of their songs made it into the greatest hymnbook of all times, the book of Psalms. Here are a couple attributed to the Sons of Korah. Psalm 42:1, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my should pants for you, my God.” Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Korah had more than just muscle for moving furniture. It looks like he had a creative gift. We’ll never know for sure, but we do know there’s a danger for all who stand on the stage, in the lights, in front of a crowd. Music and ministry can become all about me.
Let’s picture the disciples in a disagreement over who would sit at Jesus’ right hand, while he prepared himself for the cross. Now, see them in the upper room standing around waiting for Jesus with dirty feet. The roads in that day had no sewer system and cattle and horses relieved themselves in the streets. All of it was mixed in the dust and dirt. Wearing sandals all day meant you had stinky feet. But that night there was no servant to do the dirty job. When Jesus entered immediately took a towel and began touching and washing their feet, taking the humblest place, filling a need.
Let’s remember, in all our serving, in whatever capacity, we are are not serving a person, or ourselves but God. Our sacrifice should be done with gladness and joy because before God it is an act of worship that glorifies him. 1 Peter 4:11 says, “…If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.”