It’s Not About US

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the iridescent interior of one of the most active galaxies in our local neighbourhood

I’ve written another post which I titled “It’s Not About Us,” so maybe I should fish around and come up with something different for this one. But it seems like the most fitting summation of the fifth “Sola”: soli deo gloria or God’s glory alone.

So many people miss the fact that creation and salvation alike point to God as excellent. That’s what giving glory means. It’s a way of shining a spotlight on the star of the show. It’s a way of saying, without Him, this wouldn’t work, it wouldn’t be good. It’s a way of saying, Here’s the one who gets the credit.

And what should God get credit for? All that He’s done, because all His works are good. So God deserves glory for creation—everything we can see with the naked eye and all that we can only see with a microscope or a telescope. In other words, all that we have only recently discovered, is cause for us to glorify God. All of creation reflects who He is, though sin has even had an effect on the natural world. How so? I’ll save that discussion for another time because it deserves a much more complete answer than I can give in passing.

Besides creation, God deserves glory for what He does personally and individually. Psalm 139 tells us that God “formed my inward parts,” that He “wove me in my mother’s womb.” So we can start with the very life He gives.

Of course He sustains that life. He provides, protects, sustains.

He also cares for each of us emotionally. His Spirit comforts, for instance, and gives peace. He Himself is cause for joy. He makes our spirits glad.

Which takes us to God’s work which involves the spiritual. of most importance, He provides salvation for all who believe. Salvation is far more than the hope of heaven, though there certainly is that. But in the here and now, those who believe in Jesus Christ have His Spirit within.

This might be one of the most confusing truths for those who don’t believe. At the same time, for those who do believe, it’s one of the best aspects of salvation. We simply are no longer alone. We have God with us and available to us—to give us strength or wisdom or counsel or any number of things.

I have an author friend who keyed in on this concept in his first series of books. Ever since he signs his notes “Never alone.” Because we aren’t.

God deserves glory for His presence in our lives.

Even more, He deserves glory for His character. He reveals who He is through what He has made, what He did for the nation Israel, what His prophets said, the words His spirit inspired, and most especially in His Son who shows us the Father. So even though we have not seen God, we know about Him and we can know Him personally because He made a relationship possible.

When He reveals through Scripture that He is merciful, we don’t have to scratch our heads and wonder if God is merciful. He said He is. What grounds do we have to say otherwise?

Some people, to be sure, look at the sin-ravaged world and blame God. But all the wickedness and “inhumanity to man” that fill the world, are results of mankind going our own way—not something we can accuse God of doing. Just the opposite. He warned us not to go our own way, that to do so would lead to death.

God’s love and mercy often get a lot of attention, but He is just as deserving of praise for His righteous judgments. He doesn’t make mistakes. And for His sovereignty. For His omniscience. Psalm 139 again: He is “intimately acquainted with all my ways.”

That’s both comforting and frightening. How awesome that He knows me so well. But that also means there’s nothing I can hide from Him.

There are so many qualities that God has revealed about Himself, I know I could never present them all or do them justice. One that seems particularly significant to me is His transcendence. Another way to say that is that He is Other. He is above us, beyond us, better, able to do and be what we can never do or be.

Actually, God’s transcendence makes His Incarnation that more meaningful. In order to reconcile us to Himself He left heaven, yes, but He also became like us. He was greater in every respect, yet He became like the creature He had made.

So faith and grace and Scripture and even Christ Himself all give us cause to give God alone glory.

Published in: on October 27, 2017 at 4:51 pm  Comments Off on It’s Not About US  
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Glorifying God Means What Exactly?

Once again author and friend Mike Duran has asked a thought-provoking question on his blog, this time How Do We “Glorify God” in Our Writing? If you take a look at the comments, you’ll see there are some remarks nearly as long as the original post. The subject of giving God glory is no small one.

Mike started out with a straightforward statement about a Christian’s need to glorify God:

Of course, I realize that Christians are to glorify God in everything they do.

    So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (I Cor. 10:31).

Odd as it may seem, that oft repeated idea caused me to pause, first because of the supporting verse, then because of the broad term “in everything.”

I recently had occasion to look at the issue central to the passage containing the “do all to the glory of God” verse. Paul has just finished giving an argument about eating or not eating meat offered to idols. Here’s the immediate context:

If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Clearly the verse in question is referring to a specific scenario. Paul’s conclusion, in essence, was this: Make your decision to eat or not eat, to drink or not drink, or whatever else, on what will glorify God.

The popular view of this verse, however, has become something like this: Christians are to glorify God in whatever we do. I’m a Christian, so whatever I do brings God glory.

As I see it, this latter interpretation doesn’t account for the context and actually makes the verse say something it doesn’t say.

But I’m also wondering about the idea of giving God glory in everything we do. I believe the in-context understanding makes it clear that “everything” means everything specific to Paul’s discussion. But even if that were not so, I’d have the same kind of struggle inherent in the command, “Pray without ceasing.”

I spent some time looking up what the Bible says about bringing God glory to see if other passages gave an “in everything” slant. The clearest passage defining what it means to glorify God seems to be in Matthew 5:16.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Throughout the New Testament, people responded to miracles and other “good works” by giving God glory. The way the passages read, it seems as if this was verbal and immediate.

For now, I’m left with these thoughts:

1) It seems good works can and should spark others to give God glory.

2) Giving God glory is something we communicate, one person to another.

Some people argue that Scripture teaches all creation glorifies God, so I’ll throw in a third point:

3) Psalm 19:1 (The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands) indicates, as does Romans 1, that creation declares something about God. I think this is different from “giving Him glory.” Rather it’s a statement of fact. God has glory; creation reveals His glory. The full moon, for example, is glorious, consequently the one Who made it is revealed as a glorious Creator.

What are your thoughts?

Published in: on August 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm  Comments (18)  
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