Glory: Why it Matters

 

Why the Glory of God Matters to Me

1. God’s glory is the object of my deepest desires

The glory of God is important to me because it has been the object of my deepest desires. All my life I have desired (and sometimes experienced) something I could not name. I now realize that the longing has been for the glory and beauty of God. I have been “ravished by beauty.” The God of glory pursued me. My first powerful glimpse of God’s glory was in Yosemite Valley in California. The beauty was so stunning that it evoked a sense of worship.   I was seeing glimpses of God’s glory in his creation.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
 and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalms 19:1)

C.S. Lewis referred to pleasures from created things as “shafts of glory” and “patches of Godlight in the woods of our experience.”  I eventually discovered that the glimpses of glory I have experienced are tastes of something greater—the full radiant glory of God—his weightiness, majesty, beauty, and radiance. God reveals his glory in his creation, his mighty acts to Israel, and supremely in his Son Jesus Christ, who the Bible calls the radiance of God’s glory.”

I have had no greater privilege than being shown that the source of the glory I first saw in Yosemite is God himself. As radiant and majestic as that place is, it is only a veiled hint of the glory that will be revealed at his appearing.  I can’t wait to see it! These glimpses of glory help me to see God as beautiful rather than useful. I have, little by little, begun to love him for himself, rather than as a means to my ends.

2. Idolatry and the pursuit of my own glory have been my deepest problems

The glory of God is important to me because chasing other glories has been disastrous. Lewis wrote a lot about how we mistake tastes of glory for glory itself. Because I did not understand my desire for glory, I tried, at various times, to experience glory on my own terms in a special place, a romantic relationship, or a meaningful career.

Concurring with my desire for God’s glory, are two other distorted drives. One is to worship the gods of my imagination (idols) rather than God.  The other is to seek my own glory. One example of an idol has been my lust to be liked and honored by other people. Because I wanted to be admired for being a great leader, I was impatient and angry when people did not cooperate with my “vision.” I felt like a failure, but it was mainly a failure to achieve self-glory.  Not only that, living for human approval led to hiding the truth about my weaknesses and self-centeredness.

3. Reflecting on God’s glory is changing me

The glory of God is important to me because my heart is changing as I study and reflect on it. I can hardly believe some of my chronic and deep-seated habits are being exposed and changing! I hope my affections don’t drift too far away from the beauty of God. Here are a few examples of heart change:

Pondering the glory of God helps me see that all of life is a gift from his hand—the pleasures he sends, the people his sends (both likeable and not so much), and the pain he sends. My deeply rooted self-pity is gradually giving way to singing of his faithfulness.  

Pondering the glory of God directs me away from regrets and a failure focus. I am realizing that God has never failed to reveal his glory and faithfulness in my life. Yes, I have failed in my self-glory projects, and that has stung, but what a gift that God disrupted those!

Pondering the glory of God reduces my anxiety, because when I am not seeking my glory, I am not worried so much about people’s disapproval.

All of these are descriptions of the present because I am aware that I am prone to drift. I know that I have not arrived at spiritual maturity. I expect my trust in God’s glory will be strongly tested. Please pray for me! 

4. I am learning to set my hope God’s future glory

The glory of God is important to me because I can go forward with hope. Isaiah the prophet paints many vivid images of the glory God will bring to his renewed creation. War, injustice, and loneliness will be no more in the shalom (peace) of His kingdom. God’s radiant face will no longer be hidden. A glorious future awaits me! But in this present world, where God’s glorious new creation is not yet consummated, I live with an unsatisfied, but deepening longing. As the yearning grows, the yearning hurts more—I ache and groan for the Lord and his glory.

As a man approaching sixty, I can face the inevitable dangers, disappointments, and deaths that are coming. I am growing in hope as I look to the ultimate future, when God fully reveals His glory in the appearance of Jesus Christ. But it is a vulnerable thing to hope! I get tempted to deaden my hope and protect myself from disappointment. But I am learning to embrace the vulnerability that drives me to God.

5. God’s glory is becoming the center of all my thinking

The glory of God is important to me because it integrates my thinking about everything else. Even though I have experienced the glory of God since I was young, I did not have a theology of God’s glory. I went for decades as a Christian without reading much about the glory or beauty of God. Nobody I knew discussed it. I was far more acquainted with the intellectual rigors of theology and its rational defense. I discovered was that there is also an aesthetic dimension to God’s revelation.  The Christian worldview is profound and defensible, but it is also beautiful, glorious, and desirable.

With the glory of God central, I have become more interested in describing and displaying the beauty of God’s truth than defending it. Defense has a place, but I first want people to hear and see and sense that God is beautiful. I want to commend the faith for its beauty just like I do with everything else we commend. I suggest a good wine because of its taste, not its chemical composition.

6. The glory of God is becoming the focus of all of my endeavors

The glory of God is important to me because it is the theme that informs the vision of what I want to become in character, and the work I am called to do.

I want God’s beauty to “beautify” me as a servant of the gospel of glory. By that I mean I want be a transparent and vulnerable person who does not hide weakness or live in shame.  I want to have a gentle humility, to shut up when love requires listening, and a humble boldness to speak up when love requires a courageous word.

I want my marriage to be a display of the beauty of God and reenactment of the gospel. I want be a beautiful and gentle person to my wife, and I want help her continue to be beautified. I want us to shine as people who honor each other rather than criticize and control. I want our story to be the story of God’s glory shown in his faithfulness to sinners.  

I want to encourage the people I know to see the glory of Lord being revealed in the circumstances of their lives.

I am writing about a livable theology of glory on this website, and a book tentatively called Fear, Failure and the Faithfulness of God, and through stories and a novel that attempts to visualize people being transformed by God’s glory.

I want to translate the language of God’s glory to people who are unaware of the biblical story and living outside the church.

I want to draw attention to art, and make art that reflects God’s beauty. Besides writing, I do fine art photography. I hope to gather with writers, musicians, and visual artists to collaborate.

Underlying all these endeavors, I want to be engaged in a praying life that pursues these things as acts of worship. Thanks for reading this far, and please pray that I can respond faithfully to the Lord’s glory.

This page serves as a general introduction my hunger for God’s glory. For an exploration of biblical passages relating to God’s glory and the work of theologians, I have made separate pages on the “writings” page.