You don’t have to look very far to see awe problems everywhere around you.
Adultery is an awe problem. To the degree that you forget God’s glory as the Creator of your body and his place as owner of every aspect of your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual personhood, to that degree it is easier to use the members of your body to get whatever pleasure your heart craves.
Debt is an awe problem. When your mind is blown away by the thought that God provides everything you have, that every good gift really does come from him, you are predisposed to be a good steward of the things he has provided.
Obsession with the collection of possessions is the result of an awe amnesia that makes you ask of things what you will only ever get from the God of glory, who alone can satisfy your searching heart.
Living for power and control is an awe problem. When you live with the rest and peace that come from keeping the power, authority, and sovereignty of God before your eyes, you don’t need to work yourself into control over the people and situations in your life.
Gluttony and obesity are awe problems. When you forget the glory of the satisfying grace of the Redeemer, you are susceptible to letting things like food and drink become your temporary replacement messiahs.
Fear of man is an awe problem. When I forget that God’s glory defines not only him but who I have become as his child, I look to people to give me meaning, purpose, and identity. The awe war is everywhere.
Awe in ministry
So I know that in ministry I will be preaching, teaching, and encouraging people who are awe forgetful, awe discouraged, awe empty, awe deceived, awe seduced, awe kidnapped, and awe weary. My job is to give them eyes to see the awesome glory of God—his glorious grace, wisdom, power, faithfulness, sovereignty, patience, kindness, mercy, and love. Further, it is my job to connect this glory to the everyday experience of the hearer in a way that engages the heart and transforms the life. Whatever the ministry moment or biblical passage being discussed, I am called to intentionally inspire awe.
Something is wrong with worship that fails to inspire awe. Something is defective in exegesis that does not inspire awe. Theological instruction that does not arouse awe is broken. Biblical literacy that fails to stimulate awe is missing something. When personal discipleship doesn’t produce vertical awe, something is amiss. This is the grand agenda of every form of ministry, and once I got it, it set my ministry on a whole new trajectory—one on which it remains today.
We minister to people who are hardwired for awe, who have lost their awe, and who need awe given back to them again, so that they will not only live in awe of God but will pass that awe down to the generation that follows.
This excerpt is adapted from Paul Tripp’s book Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do (Crossway, 2015). Get Awe today.