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How Do We Understand God's Glory?

Christian Living

by Sarah Yardley

How Do We Understand God's Glory?

So many of our days are made up of ordinary moments. Clean the kitchen. Write an email. Do the laundry. Buy our groceries. We live in a series of ordinary, necessary patterns and somehow lose track of this truth of the incarnation:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

As followers of Jesus, we have seen glory.

That glory is Jesus Christ, fully God, fully man, all that God has to say to us (the Word) choosing human flesh to live and walk among us. And yet it is easy for us to forget that glory is unveiled, in our midst, resurrected within the mundane routine of our days. I have seen the glory of God in a handful of ordinary moments this past month:

. In our offices, as a group of Christian leaders gathered to pray for our town, one of our local, young people stood at the door and listened. As we finished, he announced to the 12 of us, “I think you know I don’t believe all this ...but the way you prayed just now really touched me.”

. A text message that woke me, from a searching friend who wrote simply, “I wanna know more about this Jesus fella.” She is astounded by the concept that she is loved, having done nothing to earn it.

. An invitation from a local charity to join their mental health walk because, "their clients are coming to faith, and they don't know how to talk to them about following Jesus."

The story of glory is at once both ordinary and extraordinary, but part of the reality of our journey to know Jesus is that it requires sacrifice to know His glory fully.

We are not called to anything that God Himself has not willingly chosen. In the beautiful words of Linn Marie Tonstad, “The glory of God’s divinity is not an abstract glory in the way the world counts glory and power but a glory that fears not its own sacrifice: a glory whose content is sacrifice. God’s glory, expressed toward us, is willingness to pour Godself out on our behalf.“1

We hear of glory and think of kings and palaces, Meghan Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry, a Tiffany diamond, a Super Bowl win. Our God sees a glory whose content is sacrifice. To glimpse the glory of God has required of me some clear sacrifices: leaving home and country and choosing another place to live and share the good news of Jesus Christ, the Word become flesh. Your choice may be less geographically drastic. It may look like the father and mother who sacrifice sleep for a new baby, a university student who sacrifices popularity to stand up for Jesus, a businessman who sacrifices lunch hours to pray with a friend. Whatever our place of sacrifice, our confidence is this:

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:5-7‬)

In order to proclaim, we must first willingly choose to be servants.

In a boldly “me first” culture, the message of the Gospel will always hold shades of unpopularity. Do you want to be great? Very few in our day and age would counsel you to do that by choosing to be a servant of all. In the words of prayer warrior Pete Greig, “but if this is a glory story, it is a peculiar kind of glory, mostly touching down in broken places and messed up people who rarely feel as spiritual as the story makes them sound .”2

Our broken places are present. They often flare up in the ordinary moments above all. Clean the kitchen. (Again?!?) Write an email. (How are there so many?) Do the laundry. (But do I have to fold it?) Buy our groceries. (Endlessly.) If you aren’t feeling very spiritual as you read this list...neither do I.

And if you heard that you needed to make the ordinary moments a story of glory, you heard wrong. Here’s the deliciously good news of the Gospel: We beheld His glory.

Are you weary? Sit and rest in the presence of a God who has done the work. Are you battling? Delight in knowing a God who has won the war. Are you overwhelmed at the ordinary? Know that the sacrificing God has come to give you grace and truth.

When we glimpse His story of glory, it shapes our days in the light of His presence.

Sarah will be sharing at the CCCM Women's Christmas Coffee on December 1. Visit christmascoffee.cccm.com for more info!

Notes:

1 Tonstad, Linn Marie. God and Difference: The Trinity, Sexuality, and the Transformation of Finitude. New York: Routledge, 2016, 14.

2 Grieg, Pete. Dirty Glory. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2016, 11.