Sunday, August 1, 2010

Love and Glory

No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
John 1:18 NAS

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…
Heb 1:1-3 NAS

I hear much about God’s glory. Worship music revolves around it. We “give” it to God in public prayer. Pulpits abound with preachers zealously proclaiming it, defending it, demanding it and lamenting the loss of it. Still, in spite of all the noise, I think some people have little idea what they’re talking about. From the way certain people speak about God, it is understandable that others leave the church with an impression of God as petty, self-centered, egomaniacal, an attention-seeking infant with self-esteem issues.

I cringe every time I hear the phrase, “God’s primary concern is His own glory.” I hear it a lot. I hear it from people I know and love, people who love Jesus very much. They want to lift God’s name high and defend it all costs. They don’t seem to understand that God doesn’t need to be defended. I think they fail to realize they are lifting Him out of the reach of the very people He came to deliver. In the words of Rich Mullins from the Lufkin, Texas concert before his death, “They’re not bad, they’re just wrong.”

A being primarily concerned with his own glory would never descend to this rat-hole of a world. And he certainly wouldn’t die for the rats. Honestly, he would probably torch the whole damned thing. He might possibly be convinced, out of a narcissistic desire for praise - and all that nagging - to leave cracked the door to the heavenly servants’ quarters. Even then, however, I think he would station Saint Peter nearby with instructions to weed out the riff-raff. And the bad singers.

The book of Hebrews says that Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature. In other words, if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. He came to be a servant (Mat 20:28). He was homeless (Mat 8:20). He was spit upon, beaten and mocked (Mar 14:65). He was crucified for our sin (Gal 3:13, Isa 53:5). He never acted for his own glory. Everything he did and said was for the deliverance and redemption of humanity; and of course, for the glory of the Father (Joh 7:18). Such a deliverance could do nothing less than bring glory to the Father because it displays the greatest love imaginable (Joh 15:13).

Genuine selfless love, fully understood and accepted, always results in praise from the beloved. But assuming praise and glory to be God’s primary goal misses the focus of Jesus’ every word and action, denies the very selflessness in which he was glorified. You see, it is His love that makes Him glorious. The pursuit of glory could never make him love.

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