Last night at our Friday night renewal meeting, I began teaching a multi-week series on “Pursuing the Glory of God.” I had spent hours researching all the New Testament
references and a number of Old Testament ones to the word, “glory.” I studied its etymology and found the Hebrew and Greek root words. I examined Old Testament stories about the glory. I noticed that ever since the fall of man, God-lovers have been praying to see it. But as I was teaching, I suddenly realized that I was planning to teach a series on something that I could not define, nor could anyone in the congregation. So I’m asking you, what is “the glory”?
Is it signs and wonders? Healing miracles? Falling under the power in Toronto? Or is it gold dust appearing in meetings or gold teeth appearing in our mouths? Is it the feeling you feel at church when you feel a feeling that you’ve never felt before? Is it having a vision or a dream or a third heaven, out- of-body revelation that is so powerful that like the Apostle Paul, you can’t even talk about it?
From our earliest days as Christians we are taught that we should long for “the glory.” I’ve spent most of my Christian life waiting for more and more of it. I’ve been preparing myself to be in awe of it and firmly convinced that when “it” showed up, I would know it. I’ve even thought I’ve experienced it. I certainly hope I’m being transformed by it. I know Jesus prayed that I would have it, and whatever it is, I want it. And I want God to get as much of it from my life as He can.
Glory may be kin to honor, but it’s not the same as honor. I know it’s wrong to seek it for selfish gain, and I know that it only belongs to God. The Apostle Paul prayed that the Church would have it and that the Lord Jesus Christ would be given more of it. I also know that when it “hits” there’s nothing else like it; and that when a dead body has it, it can’t stay dead.
The glory is like your health. You can’t define it until it’s not there. In fact, you will define it best in terms of how you lack it. When the Israelites lost the Ark of the Covenant in battle, the two sons of Eli, the priest, were killed. When Eli heard that the ark had been taken, he died, too. That same day Eli’s son’s widow gave birth to a son and named him Ichabod, meaning, “No glory.” They knew they’d had it- but not anymore.
So maybe I’m asking the wrong question. Maybe I shouldn’t be asking “what” is the glory, but rather, “Who” is the glory? The Apostle John said that when he saw Jesus and walked with Him, he beheld God’s glory. The writer of Hebrews defines the glory this way, “He (meaning Jesus) is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature.” Jesus is what God wants us to see of His glory. Paul told the Colossians that to have “Christ in you” is “the hope of glory.” And according to what Paul told the Ephesians, I think that means that the Holy Spirit in me is a deposit of the glory to come.
Since Jesus is the glory, then it’s Him I want. The Bible says that no one has ever looked upon the face of God and survived and that no one has seen God at any time. Jesus veiled Himself in human flesh so that we could get a big enough glimpse of the glory of God to save us from our sins. The times He has appeared to people since and the miraculous things He does now are merely a foretaste of this thing called glory. But they are enough to cause me to give God control of my life today so that I may see in eternity what I cannot now define.
Originally Published March/April 2005 Editor Melinda Fish