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God Is Self-centered. Does that Make You Uncomfortable?

Over time, we all create a painting in our heads. It’s a painting called “How Things Are.”  We are very sure of these paintings and keep them front-and-center. They are beautiful and took time to create and most importantly, they are correct. Or so we think. But as we learn and grow and mature, we reluctantly throw out the old “How Things Are” and begin painting a new one. All that work for nothing.

This is what this blog series has begun to force me to do, a lot of repainting (or flat out burning) specifically in the area of my thoughts on God’s glory and sovereignty. I shared a bit of this in the post that started this whole series here. And surprise! This topic has themed its way into my 2011.

The question of only loving God because of what He does for me rather than who He is connects to the question I and others were asked by a speaker I listened to last week: Why does the idea of God wanting to glorify himself make us squirm in our seats? As we squirmed, he continued probing, “Does God desire God’s glory more than He desires us? Why does He seek His own praise above all else? Is this bothering you? Why is this bothering you?” And the pieces of my little self-made theories began to drop to the floor. And my beautiful “How Things Are” once again appeared ridiculous.

When you read the Bible, you read the word “glory” many times and it is always God’s glory. And when you keep reading the Bible, it turns out the whole point is His glory. Sounds rudimentary, I know, but to realize God’s chief aim is to be praised and not to be sure I am ok and am successful and joyful and on the right path, well, that has been difficult for me. I squirmed as I heard about–what John Piper calls–God’s God-centeredness and realized I was squirming out of my own self-centeredness.

His chief aim is not us; his chief aim is himself. And that sounds selfish and vain, but only because we are selfish and vain.

I have an incredibly difficult task before me now: to realize once and for all that this world is not about me. This life is not about me. My life is not about me. I am not about me.


  1. Peach | 31st Oct 11

    He created us in His image. He is self-centered. We are self-centered. But, the problem with us being self-centered compared to God is that He is perfect. He is holy. We are not.

    • keturah simpson | 28th Nov 11

      That’s so true and that’s why in our flesh we cannot fathom God-centredness!!

  2. willosgood | 31st Oct 11

    Wow, this is really well-written and expressed at a heart level. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Lucas Carvalho | 31st Oct 11

    That does not bother me. As servants, that’s really our role: we are here to praise God and give Him all the glory. Knowing that God is “God-centered” does not make me question His character, since my measures of character do not apply to Him.

    Also, I am not in a position to feel uncomfortable with God’s decisions on His own glory. I simply accept it as a reality.

    • Lizard king | 16th Nov 12

      why do you call god a his? He is not a man or woman.

  4. Randi | 31st Oct 11

    I don’t think we should misinterpret “God’s glory” through our own lenses either…it is not vainglory. When He is concerned about His glory, He is concerned about sharing His nature with us…because we need it. Glorification is the revealing of oneself. He does not need our praise, but we need to praise Him.

  5. Xinjin | 31st Oct 11

    how is God self-centered when love is not self seeking. Please explain i’m confused

    • Corey | 12th Dec 11

      God is the greatest thing there is and as the greatest thing we are only truly satisfied in him and as his creation we were made for him, so our lives are truly fullfilled when we are truly satisfied in him and him alone, God cares about his glory and makes much of himself because he is the greatest thing there is nothing that compares with him. So were made for God to be satisfied in him and to live for him, when we are not we are not completely satisfied and our lives are in rebellion to him and are objects of his wrath therefore his “self-centerdness” is also for our salvation for unless we get that we will always be considered enemies of God

  6. faizee bodha | 31st Oct 11

    Strangely enough it doesn’t bother me that God is self centered. Maybe I hope that because I’m accepting God’s self centred-ness (!), people will accept mine! Lol. I know it doesn’t work that way. I’m a little disgruntled though that the world does not revolve around me….if I cease to exist the world will not stop turning? Shocking! Horrifying! I’m not as important to the existence of the world as I thought I was. 🙂 I can live with that…..I hope….
    Great blog!

  7. munteng | 31st Oct 11

    what a thought provoking post. to be honest, since you put it that way, it does makes me feel uncomfortable. but Peach has a good point.
    don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems that even when God is placed in such a harsh perspective, He is still lovely.

  8. Rosel Gomez (@RosselG) | 31st Oct 11

    All is about him! He is amazing

  9. Debbie | 31st Oct 11

    Yes, I agree (because this is what we see in scripture) God is “self-centred”. It does make me a little uncomfortable because this seems to suggest that God is vain/egotistical/selfish. Perhaps because if I am self-centred then I am those things. The “uncomfortable” comes I think because of the deception that God’s “self-centeredness” is the same as my self-centeredness. God’s word tells us that God is “…the rock, His works are perfect. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just in all His ways.” Deuteronomy 32:4. God was meant to be the center and focus of everything — I wasn’t. God’s self-centeredness is always good and ends in what is good. I should be rejoicing that while He deeply desires a close and intimate relationship with me AND I am His personal concern (so are you!) (1 Peter 5:7), HE is the centre of His focus because He is ALL good, ALL wise, ALL loving, ALL knowing….and that is the only way ALL good will ever be. When God is the centre. Could be that this makes me a little uncomfortable, too, because it means I have to adjust my focus a bit and make Him the centre — not self — of my life. Then again, that’s really the only way to experience true, deeply rich, abundant life.

  10. Sadaf Shah | 31st Oct 11

    Beautifully written article. A real food for thought!

  11. mary riddock | 1st Nov 11

    I have been struggling with this very subject for some time now. Although ashamed to admit it, after fifty years of life and being a Christian, my rose tinted glasses have been forced off my face. I have tried everywhere to find books that may explain the God of the OT. The God that doesn’t come over as very loving at all. I do appreciate your writings today and very aptly timed. Thank you

  12. Jimmy Nelson | 2nd Nov 11

    Lucifer was a perfect angel until he loved himself more than God! Adam was a perfect man until he loved himself (Eve – “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”) more than he loved God. Both were condemned to death. But “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” We can receive all the goodness of God that we do not deserve because Jesus received all the bad that He did not deserve. The cross made all the difference. God the Father really, really, really loves His Son. And if I am “in Christ” then I am loved beyond my own understanding. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also FREELY give us all things?” These are God’s words. Check it out!

  13. Sunil Noronha | 4th Dec 11

    “His chief aim is not us; his chief aim is himself.
    And that sounds selfish and vain, but only
    because we are selfish and vain.”.

    If God was pre-occupied with himself, we are in a mess. Then heaven is a place where ego reigns. And if we are to be in a place where this ego is king, God has either planted in us genes that should make us simply worship him disregarding any self value of our own. But don’t we have any self value? If we didn’t, we wouldn’t want, desire or choose anything as a first choice. God wants walking zombies? You think?

  14. williams | 30th Dec 12

    God’s selfishness could be understood in terms of its inclusiveness.he made all things with himself as the centre,thus gravitating all towards that his pervasive love perfection and brilliance could dispensed into them.we ere most complete if we remain true such a course.

  15. Samantha | 17th Dec 14

    Reading through your “hard questions” series is extremely comforting and helpful, since I’m currently going through a season of asking difficult questions of myself, my faith, and my place in this world. Thank you for your vulnerability, honesty, and boldness! 🙂

    Last summer I read a book called “Disciple” by Bill Clem. It explained God’s “self-centeredness” as not self-serving at all – instead, the Father seeks to love and serve and glorify the Son and the Spirit, the Son seeks to love and serve and glorify the Father and the Spirit, and the Spirit seeks to love and serve and glorify the Son and the Father. It is the trinity that reveals God’s selfless nature rather than his “self-centeredness”.

  16. Richard | 20th Mar 16

    God is selfish and self centre what s the point of making humanity, to suffer for his need, the problem with god he gave use freewill then want to take away our freedom, if you read genesis the reason cain killed abel, was because of god rejection of cain offering which lead to cain killing his brother, is that cain fault or god it both cain should have never killed abel, but god should have shown more mercy.

  17. Rani B | 4th Nov 16

    Lovely article. I reached out exactly because I was feeling uncomfortable about this idea that God’s main thing is His Glory. My thoughts on it echo many mentioned here.
    1. We are his servants and his seeking after His Glory is the reality we accept because we had no way to choose too come here. He brought us here for his pleasure as do parents being children into the world.
    2. More importantly God is just awesome. We have that innate thing in us that naturally worships, reveres, glorifies that which is awesome. It could be described as just and natural that God wants to be glorified. It would be amiss for us the observers not to glorify that which is most awesome. This is a small unworthy comparison but does a talented singer keep his beautiful voice to himself? Or does he seek out an audience to share his talent with? And do his fans not thoroughly enjoy him or “worship” him in some sense? That is what God has done in creating us.
    3. The idea of giving praise to what is praiseworthy is not strange nor does it make us uncomfortable in the regular world. We notice the amazingness that is in this world so we naturally want to give praise. It would be amiss to give that glory to another but God or to not express it at all. God knows he is awesome. He made us to observe and glorify him for that. And he continues to demonstrate his awesomeness and that is called revelation. And it is great that we also thoroughly enjoy Him. It’s not that God seeking his glory is for our ultimate benefit. Sure it fulfills us but it’s not about us. That it’s a convoluted way of us being yet again self centered. God’s love to us is about us. Our glorifying God is about Him.
    4.Another thought is doesn’t a lover desire his beloved to love him back? God in making us and the world and blessing us and ultimately sending Jesus has poured out love and light on us. He desires it to be reciprocated. A lot of stories in the Bible make God arm egotistical but if you think he had already been the one to awe us and love us more than any other. Worship is now the response he is anticipating from us having already demonstrated his love and continuing to do so. It shows that we are being self centered or even idolatrous to not worship him.


  18. Angela | 2nd Apr 19

    We are in rebellion if we don’t desire to worship God . He is the creator of the universe ! He put breath in our lungs . He sent his only son to to save the world . How dare we not honor and magnify him ! The Bible says unless you come as a little child and humble yourselves ….. you know the rest .

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