Today's sermon, Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone), with its emphasis on creation's calling to glorify God, may leave you wondering whether our God has a fragile ego. Do we simply exist to pump up God's tires, and remind God how great God is?
A prayer from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life expresses this sentiment: "Oh Lord, oooh you are so big. So absolutely huge. Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here I can tell you. Forgive us, O Lord, for this dreadful toadying and barefaced flattery. But you are so strong and, well, just so super. Fantastic. Amen."
This question (and Monty Python's prayer) assumes that God is somehow incomplete; that creation somehow makes God whole.
But this is not how the church understands God. Theologians have viewed creation as an overflow of the love that exists within the completeness of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Creation does not exist to pump up God's tires, but in its truest nature magnifies God, inasmuch as a painting reflects the creativity and talent of the artist who made it.
This is something that the non-human world cannot help but do: "The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1 NRSV). But as God's unique creation, those made in God's image, huamns have a choice in whether they will actively reflect the glory of God. A choice not to glorify God, is a choice to glorify ourselves. And glorifying ourselves is a decision to deny justice (giving honor where it is due) and abandon our truest and deepest nature. So what will we do? Jesus says: "let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16 NRSV).