What does it really mean to glorify God?
In my three and a half decades as a pastor I certainly have taught on the glory of God. I can tell you the meaning of the Hebrew word; it has the idea of something that is weighty, that has substance, value, and great worth.
I can point to the fact that when we glorify something or someone, we reveal things about them that makes them more fully known and enhances their reputation.
I understand the biblical passages that talk about the work of Christ in creation and redemption “to the glory of God.” I can recite the commands “to glorify God with your bodies” or “in everything you do glorify God.”
But it wasn’t until the last few days—during this worldwide time of “shelter in place”—that the Holy Spirit has linked that cognitive knowledge in a simple and profound way with the language of my heart.
After days of isolation and staring at screens, I’ve been taking long walks near my home. Like never before, I have been noticing the beauty of flowers bursting with color, the majestic hills keeping watch over the trails, the deer leisurely laying in tall grass, and the sound of wild turkeys gobbling in the distance.
As I’ve walked and prayed and wondered what the Creator of the universe is up to in this COVID-19 season of world history, I heard Him whisper something to me distinctly. “Look at Me!”
That’s when it struck me. That’s what it really means “to glorify.” When we glorify something or someone what we’re really saying is look at this, or look at that, or look at him, look at her.
At the more personal level, when we say by word or action or inference, “look at me,” we are glorifying ourselves. Of course, as followers of Christ we have learned to say “look at me” in a thousand different ways to disguise coming out and saying it quite that bluntly. It’s that insightful tweet that says “look at me”—how clever and bright I am.
It’s the Facebook post that says this is my normal and amazing life. It’s the, “I’m so humbled to receive this great honor” post on social media” that says “look at me.” It’s us caught up in a culture that makes “me” the center of attention in my home, my work, my church, and my mind. It’s SELF on the throne.
I’ve discovered this SELF-glorification tendency can reach an even more subtle and nearly unconscious level. It’s me interrupting others to make sure they know how important my day was, or to let everyone know I have a story that’s better than the one they’re sharing. It’s me over-explaining why I did something, or why I didn’t do something, so that everyone understands the purity of my motives and the humility of my character.
Long periods alone, without distractions, with limited interaction, have forced me to see myself more clearly than I did before. As much as I hate to admit it, there is way too much “look at me” still woven into the core of my character.
When a would-be disciple questioned the validity of Jesus being Messiah, he received the invitation to “come and see.” In other words, “look at Him.”
The apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, told the Colossian church to “look at Him” because “in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 2:9, 1:17). Jesus!
Maybe I’m late to the party, or have not been very self-aware; but today I realize that to glorify God is not all that complicated. It’s simply living one’s life and speaking one’s words to say, “look at Him.”
It reminds me of Philippians 2:3-4. We are commanded to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” (The King James Version uses the term “vainglory”!) The passage goes on to say “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” What a need this is right now during COVID-19.
It makes me wonder: Has God in His severe mercy allowed at least some of what is occurring today to shake us from our preoccupation with ourselves (vainglory) and from the multitude of distractions, to encourage us to push pause on a world gone mad?
Is it possible that He wants to use this global pandemic to call us back from our failing gods of science, technology, and narcissism, and ask us to “look at Him”? To hear Him say “I love you, and I want to help you?” “Look at Me in my Word!” “Look at Me” as you help one of the least of these.
The “glory of God” has always been a very important yet somewhat nebulous concept to get my mind around, let alone my heart. Today, it got a lot simpler.
With every word, with every action, and with every post, I simply need to ask, is this a “look at me” moment or a “look at Him” moment? Thank you for helping us point “to Him” at a time when people are so open to hear. Your prayers and gifts are making a difference!
Let’s keep pressing ahead,,
CEO & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
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