Ambition rescued.

February 9, 2011

Sometimes as I walk around my school campus, I’ll see AMDG engraved on the stone faces of different lecture halls.  Other times I’ll see them in smaller initials on bronze plaques.  Ad majorem Dei gloriam. Sweet, visual reminders for every discipline in the university to be pursued to the greater glory of God, because nothing is an exercise in futility when done for that greater purpose.  Are you studying science here?  Great, pursue science ad majorem Dei gloriam. Are you in business?  Great, pursue business ad majorem Dei gloriam.  Are you a dancer?  Great, dance ad majorem Dei gloriam. Are you studying to be a lawyer?  Great, pursue law ad majorem Dei gloriam, too.  Secondary ambitions have been rescued to serve this chief ambition.

But not just at the university.  In all of life.

The early church used a fascinating visual to describe the self-preoccupying nature of sin: incurvatus in se. It means we “curve in on ourselves” … When a hard-wired desire for glory is infected with incurvatus in se, noble ambitions collapse. (Dave Harvey, Rescuing Ambition, p. 38)

I no longer live for approval; I live from approval. (56)

If our understanding of doctrine creates passivity toward God’s empowering presence or cools the hot embers of our ambition, we’ve misunderstood God’s sovereignty.  When we rightly understand God’s caring control over all things, that knowledge should ignite robust faith toward him and bold desire to act in our hearts. (85)

The focus of true faith is not hills to be taken, battles to be won, or trials to be endured.  The focus of true faith is God — and not just God in the abstract, theological sense.  It’s the God who’s made known in the person of Jesus Christ. (85)

Christ’s humility didn’t restrain his enterprise; it defined it … Humility is not a fabric softener on our aspirations — smoothing, softening, and tempering our dreams to the point where we’re too modest to reach for anything. (116)

Christians are flammable.  God created us to burn.  Not like a match, either — bright and hot but quickly extinguished.  That does little good for others and brings little glory to God.  Ambitions are like a blowtorch.  God ignites them, he points them in the right direction, and eternal work gets done.  The flame is sustained by the fuel of grace.  God’s work in God’s way for God’s glory.  Why burn for anything else? (117-118)

Paul’s ambition was not randomly pointed at many goals, all equally important.  Nope, Paul valued the gospel above all things.  Even Paul’s life wasn’t more precious than that. (186)

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