John 1:14. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
To be alive is to have a deep longing for glory. For the transcendent. The beautiful. The weighty. The things that give life it’s meaning. We were created by God with glory and for glory. His glory. The glory of the Trinity. We were meant to see it and share it. To receive it and declare it.
Because God made us for glory, everything we do is an attempt to get more. Glory is why we work and why we play. It’s why we watch movies and play video games. It’s why we post on Instagram and are rude on Twitter. It’s why we remember the glory days, and sing songs of Heaven. Glory is everything and everything is about gaining more glory.
Looking for glorious things is not a sin- this is how God made us. And there is glory all around us- in music, art, food, sports, stories, sex, play, work… almost everything. We are all constantly looking for that thing that gives us weight, meaning, significance, and worth. It may be an achievement, a status, or even a masterpiece. That thing that shows OUR glory or value to the world.
But it is only the glory of God that satisfies and sanctifies us. Only his glory changes us into his likeness. Only God’s glory, his grace, his goodness and love are enough to satisfy our deepest desires for meaning, significance, honor and purpose. And, one day, it will be his majestic beauty alone that transforms us when we see his face.
Moses knew this. Which is why in Exodus 33:18 he asked God for the one thing that could actually change his life and the life of the sinful people he was leading – “Lord, show me your glory.”
If you don’t remember the story you can go back and read about it from day 34. Moses prayed to see the glory of God. But God would only allow Moses to see his “back” and not his “face.” “No one can see my face and live,” God said. No one can truly see God’s glory. It would kill us.
This is why God has had to veil is glory within lesser glories. The pillar of smoke that guided Israel was the veiled glory of God. The tabernacle and temple displayed the glory of God. All creation declares the glory of God. And of course us. More than anything else, we image the glory of God.
The problem, of course, is that we settle for all the lesser glories, expecting them to fulfill us. We make the lesser into greater. The immediate into the ultimate. The fading into the eternal. We demand that things that were never meant to fully satisfy us give us our meaning and significance in life. Things like status, power, attention, sex, affection, possessions, physical beauty, “likes” on Facebook. But because these things are not holy and eternal, like God, when we make them ultimate they will only disappoint us at best, and destroy us at worst.
And so here is the great human problem: we must have glory, but God’s glory is beyond us and lesser glories will never satisfy us. And so we are all glory junkies, desperately manufacturing our own or stealing glory from each other whenever we can.
But God has offered us the solution to our glory deficiency in our union with the life of his Son, Jesus Christ. Knowing that the source of our glory must be greater than us. Knowing that we can never manufacture our own glory, that it must be imputed to us from outside of us. And knowing that only he himself, God the Trinity, can offer a glory that will satisfy and sanctify the human heart. God has sent his glory to us to be seen by us and shared by us as we receive the life of Christ.
In the incarnation of Jesus Christ, we have seen God’s glory. The prayer of Moses has been answered. But in “to live is Christ” we have not only seen the glory of God, but we have received the glory of God (John 1:12), his life of grace and truth, into our own lives. The search is over. In Jesus we no longer have to settle for lesser glories, because the greatest glory, the glory of the love of the Trinity, is ours in him.
What lesser glories have you been settling for lately?
You in Christ
How does knowing that you share glory with Christ allow you to rest today?
Christ in you
How can the glory of Jesus be displayed in your life today?
Playlist: Songs of the glory of Christ.