Updated: Mar 23, 2019
by Dave Miller
We all live for a dream. Our hopes keep us going. When life goes wrong we hold on to what could be. When life goes right we energize for what is to come. But are our dreams big enough? Does the story we believe compel us to something far beyond ourselves? Do we know for sure when we get there it will be worth it? Nothing, and I mean nothing; can answer those questions with more surety than the Glory of the God of the Bible.
The barriers standing in the way of God’s glory as ultimate in our life are innumerable. Culturally, the normal answers surface: money, fame, career, consumerism, but individually we must ask ourselves this question and accept a realistic response. Paul Tripp said it well, “We are inescapably worshippers.”We are designed to worship. The question is not “Will we worship?” the question is “Who or what will we worship?” When it comes down to our hearts, our actions and words reveal the truth. Jesus said it this way, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Lk. 6:45). Our heart desires take us where we want to go, either to idols, a desire for lesser glory, or to God, the true and greatest Glory.
We settle for lesser glory and take idols as a quick fix. Just listen to what we speak about: Shampoo that convinces a middle school boy (and some 20 somethings) that a blonde model will attack him and his hair, the Kardashians, the next Presidential candidate who is going to save America, our perfect Instagram photo from the one postable moment of our mundane day, gossip guaranteed to ruin the reputation of your latest jealousy fix, or frankly words of anger and grit to inflict hurt on someone who got in the way of what we wanted. Even as followers of Jesus we may roll our eyes at those, all the while posting on Facebook to be noticed for our devotion, lauded for our disciple-making skills, congratulated on our remarkable discernment for the problems facing the church, or followed because of our winsome tweets. We convince ourselves that all these and more hold or can give us what we want and need, but none can answer yes to the question, “Do we know for sure when we get there it will be worth it?” Anything besides the Glory of God is a sham and ends in utter disappointment and destruction.
I must decrease
A seemingly crazy man who drew thousands to the wilderness to be baptized in a river called Jordan understood Glory. John the Baptist, dressed in camel hair with a leather belt, who munched on wild honey-dipped grasshoppers preached repentance of sin because the kingdom was coming. One day while he was baptizing and many were confessing their sins, a group of Pharisees and Sadducees, religious leaders of the day, showed up to be baptized. John, however, would have none of it and called out to them in a warm welcoming greeting, “You brood of vipers! Who warned to you to flee the coming wrath.” I will readily admit, I am not the Martha Stewart of hospitality, but I know enough to realize calling someone a snake is not the way to make friends.
John the Baptist had a message, an important one for us to understand. The religious leaders trusted in their lineage as sons of Abraham and had a vested interest in keeping the religious establishment exactly the way it was, but John proclaims that God is able to make children of Abraham from the rocks lying around. It was like telling a member of the Kennedy clan their family name was no more valuable than the gravel used to fill a pothole on an old dirt road and that the system of government used to make them famous was in fact the pothole! Well, John has our attention, so what will he do? He will point to fruit trees, of course.
God is cutting down and burning those trees if they have no fruit. The fruit God is looking for? Fruits of repentance. Turning away from trust in ourselves and our own glory to trust in God and what he declares glorious. It just so happens that the Glorious One, Jesus, shows up in this moment. The heavens open and the Father declares in an audible voice:
This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.
When the Father speaks of Glory he speaks of His pleasure in his Son, Jesus. The road of the religious leaders was a sham leading to destruction, but John paves the road for us to see Glory, Jesus Christ. Will we say with John the Baptist, “He must increase and I must decrease” (John3:30)?
He Must Increase
Listen to what God speaks about:
“Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength !Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness” (1 Chr. 16:28-29).
“I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Is. 42:8).
“Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (Is. 43:5-7).
“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have triedyou in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another” (Is. 48:10-11).
My first encounter with this idea of God’s glory sent shockwaves down my pretty theological system of me, my, and mine. But then a sermon by Louie Giglio brought back the thirst for more of the God who I saw in the plains of East Africa. He boldly stated that God was most important to God. Not me, not you, but Himself. God was enamored with himself.
I thought, “How egotistical is that?” The selfless, loving, forgiving powerful God wanted ME above all else, even to the point of dying for ME, right? Then how could God be that selfish? But Mr. Giglio wasn’t done and neither was the Holy Spirit. Louie asked, “If that bothers you then who do you want God to be all about? You? If God desired your glory more than his own then He would cease to be God and you would be. I’m not sure I want you to be God.” I agreed.
A thirst and pursuit of God’s glory necessitated a screeching halt to a pursuit of my own. I found myself walking as a Pharisee. I was proud, which automatically made me opposed to God and His works. I was in the brood of vipers and I had to decrease for Him to increase.
Next Up: Glory Chasers
Until there's #NoPlaceLeft...
Paul David Tripp, What Did You Expect? Video
Louie Giglio, Glory Sermon Series from Northpoint Community Church.
Sentergy: When Jesus, People, Practice and Theology Collide
Chapter 1: The Glory of God
Chapter 2: The Glory of God in Jesus
Chapter 3: The Glory of God in the Gospel
Chapter 4: The Glory of God in Disciple Making
Chapter 5: If You Love Me You Will Obey What I Command
Chapter 6: Monday Morning Disciple Making
Chapter 7: Monday Morning Disciple Making Part 2
Interlude: The Father's Heart
Conclusion: The Lump In Your Throat