What’s the greatest problem in the universe? And what is the greatest problem of my heart? And what is the solution to these problems? John Piper explained in a 2015 sermon, but first he explained why the universe exists, and why you and I exist. Here’s what he said.
And so the meaning of human life, the meaning of existence, the meaning of the universe is at its core: All things are to be used to show how magnificent God is. This universe is about God. Sometimes I have heard skeptics or atheists shake their heads at the notion that Christians could believe that on this infinitesimal planet where there is a self-conscious being called man could believe that God created the universe about that, because as far as we know it is just so vast and empty.
I say: You have it totally upside-down. It is not about that. That is to show this little infinitesimal people a little something about God. The universe is to display God to that little planet. It is not about that little planet. It is about God. And the universe is God’s best effort to say: That is how big I am. That is how strong I am. That is how glorious and magnificent. The galaxies are all about God, not man. There is nothing unusual about it at all. The disproportion between the universe in all of its vast glory and infinitesimal little man is perfectly rational — if you are God-centered, if God is all, if God is the reality in the universe and man is his little, amazing, worshiping group.
“Money, sex, and power are in the world for us to use in order to make God look great.”
So, we have learned that that is why we exist and, therefore, money, sex, and power are in the world for us to use in order to make God look great. And then we discovered another foundational reality; namely, that we have all exchanged the glory of God. Everywhere we have looked we have seen it. We have known it in some deep sense and we have suppressed it and we have preferred other things to God. And that is the arch heresy and the greatest outrage of the universe that people prefer other things to God. They exchange. They see God. They trade God. They embrace their death and call it their glory. And that is the tragedy and the outrage of history.
The image we used at the end of the last hour was that all of the parts of our lives — and sex, money, and power are three of them; you could add many more like family or work — are like planets in a solar system, and they are designed to be held by the massive beauty and blazing gravitational pull of a sovereign and all-satisfying God at the center of our lives. And when he is there and he is all to us and all-satisfying to us, then the planets are moving perfectly in their beautiful, God-glorifying, soul-satisfying orbits — sex, power, money, all circling the sun just the way they were designed — and nobody has God at the center like that until they are born of God.
And so, the whole universe is out of order because we replace the sun with little moons and little asteroids and little crazy things at the center of the solar system of our lives. And the planets are flying all out of order and we are murdering each other and killing each other and destroying each other’s sexual lives and manipulating and controlling and exploiting each other with money and power, so people wonder, “What is wrong? Where is God? That doesn’t have anything to do with it.” It has everything to do with it. He is everything.
If you treat him like he is nothing, don’t expect anything to work, because he didn’t make it that way. He made the universe and our souls for him to be at the blazing center.