Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

the glory of grace

3/27/13

 

 

As humans, we often seek personal glory in our wealth, our strength, our virtue, our associations, our appearance, our celebrity, our influence, and our knowledge. In our normal thinking, being respected and held in high regard demands that we be exceptional or at least noteworthy in some of these attributes.

 

Christianity speaks often about God's Glory. In the NT the word "doxa" translates glory and signifies the honor resulting from a good opinion. God's glory is said to be manifested in Christ (II Corinthians 4:6). Glory seems to incorporate the ideas of honor, respect, reverence, worship, and splendor. Therefore the source or means of God's glorification should generate these natural responses in mankind. That is because if glory involves good opinion, glory comes forth from the mind and heart of someone other than the one glorified. Good opinion must be generated in others. God cannot glorify Himself in isolation. He must act in ways that engender respect, reverence, and worship; He cannot just demand glory.

 

Interestingly, in Christian theology we often encounter the idea that mankind owes God honor, respect, obedience, and worship because he demands it and backs up that demand with an eternal threat. In this scenario, God comes across as some kind of arbitrary being who seeks glorification by fiat. He doesn't have to act worthy of glory; He simply requires our compliance in His glorification.

 

Of course, this concept of glorification by command is not the only way Christians view God's glory. In other instances, we hear that we owe God honor and worship because of His great Love for us. We should love and honor Him because He first loved us. In this case the motivation for our respecting and honoring God is not His demand for our attention but our natural response to His loving nature. Unfortunately, many of those, who see the source of God's glory as being His great love, still teach that behind God's love is the threat of eternal punishment. The introduction of this divine threat, either explicitly or implicitly, demotes God's actions to that of a demand for glorification. I will be glorified by you or else, so to speak!!

 

Is it possible that God seeks glory in any of the ways we humans do? Can He demand or even expect our attention and respect because He is stronger, wiser, richer, and more righteous than we are?

 

In Christian theology, the end of the story of God's work in human history always involves a great cataclysmic destruction in which God's wrath boils over, consuming most of humanity and all of creation. This conclusion implies that God's glory is based on His ability to destroy. This appears strange indeed, since the ability to destroy something is so obviously trivial. Creation is majestic and noble; destruction is so child-like.

 

Can God really draw glory from such an end to the story? I hardly see how. However, if God is glorified in Christ and His message alone, then I can see real glory, the kind of honor we bestow on those who sacrifice for the welfare of others, on those who amaze us with their kindness, graciousness, and peaceful spirit.

 

No, I don't believe God expects our respect and attention because He is big enough and bad enough to demand it. Instead He has sent Jesus to tell us about His grace, mercy, and undying love for all of humanity. There is real glory in being powerful and gracious; being powerful and destructive is only scary; and fear and glory don't mix, except maybe in Hollywood.

 

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