Sunday, July 1, 2007

God of Glory

Starting about three weeks ago, I began a study on glory - specifically, on the glory of God. The weeks since then have blown me away at what I'm slowly discovering. There is something incredible about getting a firmer grasp on some particular aspect of God's nature and character. It changes you, as Dr. Tackett has ntoed, to gaze upon the face of God. Moses came back from Mt. Sinai with his face glowing brightly. The three disciples who witnessed the Transfiguration came back awed and altered by the experience. And I am finding myself transformed by this. I'm reminded of Romans 12:2, as I see the renewing of my mind - the complete alteration of my understand of who God really is - changing the very way I live, the way I interact with people, the priorities of my life, my vision...

Glory. What does the word really mean? And beyond that, what does it mean that God is glorious, that indeed, as Psalm 29 says, He is the God of glory?

I suspect that if there is a significant intellectual disadvantage to those of us Christians living in American democracy, it is that we do not understand royalty. The closest thing we have is a President, and the president is a very different creature from a King. We do not understand the association of majesty and glory - yet we are hungry for it. You can see it any time the Queen of England visits: there is something in us that instinctively reaches out to embrace royalty with a rather different touch than we do to almost anything else. There is an embodied sense of awe; there is a sense that there is something deep in the person of royalty: an image that we can very nearly but not quite grasp, a picture of something greater beyond the person, the position, before us. The Queen of England is largely symbolic, now, her power absent - yet she moves people; she has a certain degree of command that exceeds her legal responsibilities. Why is that?

Glory, and perhaps majesty, are what we are grasping at, rather vainly, trying to comprehend something that is beyond us. Royalty is tied to God, because He is the ultimate royalty. The rulers of this world - be they premiers or presidents or prime ministers - are rulers only because they have been granted authority by the ultimate King: the one that Scripture repeatedly calls the King of Kings, the one who rules over all the kings.

The tiny hints of splendor that we see in the high and dignified positions of those in command of the world (or at least, what ought to be high and dignified positions) are ultimately pointing us back to Adonai, to the Lord of Lords: because He is the source of glory, of majesty, of power, of splendor... How would it change us if we lived as though we were living for the God of glory?

That's the phrase I can't get over. Psalm 29:3 says, "The voice of the Lord is over the waters, / The God of glory thunders, / the Lord over many waters." As I studied this passage, I increasingly found myself compelled by that one phrase in the middle: "God of glory." Looking at the context, the implication is clear. David was writing in a time when people spoke of the god of the sun, the god of rain, the god of fertility, the god of the earth... and David's God - Jehovah, Adonai, Elohim - was (and is) the God of glory. I simply do not understand the depth and meaning of that. It compels me to seek more, to understand this notion of a God who is so intimately wrapped up with the notion of glory that He is the God of glory.

How might it affect our lives if we understood God's glory? How might we live differently if we lived for His glory - if we understood that we exist solely for His glory, that the very purpose of our lives is to bring Him glory, to increase the glory of His name in all the earth?

I think we might live very differently indeed.

That's why I can't stop studying this. Because I have come to love, passionately and deeply, God's glory - and my love only grows every day. So I challenge you: dare to think, to ponder, to meditate on - and then to live for - the glory of God.

It will transform you, because it will renew your mind. It will fundamentally alter your very notion of God.

Dare to gaze on His face and be remade.

- Chris

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