You were made to behold glory. Biblical glory is the manifestation of God’s nature and acts (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, under “glory”).
It is a glory human beings need, a glory we were created for (Isaiah 43:7) and a glory we fall short of (Romans 3:23).
In his prayer for all believers, Jesus desired that we should see his glory (John 17:24). Why? Because he understood that what is before our eyes has incredible power to shape our souls, and apart from him there is no true, lasting glory in our lives.
Scripture says when we fail to acknowledge and honor God, our thinking becomes futile (Romans 1:21). We become darkened in our understanding, foolishly exchanging “the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:23).
We trade God’s glory for glory substitutes. Satan’s aim is to blind mankind to the glory of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4). The carved wooden idols of eras past have given way to an age of media-hewn icons, but their temptations remain the same: wealth, power, sex, luxuries, entertainment – namely, the glory of man.
The glory of man constantly competes with the glory of Christ, vying for our attention, alluring our flesh with diverse desires and coaxing us toward indiscriminate self-gratification (James 1:14-15).
Rightly does God’s word warn us: “Do not love the world or the things in the world,” for the desires of the flesh and of the eyes and the pride of life are like a flash-in-the-pan romance – their satisfaction proves cheap and short-lived (1 John 2:15-17).
Believers constantly battle this “glory-tension” between the world’s enticements and our devotion to God. But God has given us a vision of glory so grand as to capture our hearts forever: Christ crucified. The apostle Paul knew the power of the glory of the cross when he wrote these words: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).
At the cross, all worldly glory is vanquished. But to perceive that glory, we must reclaim our attention from the things of this world and return it to Christ.
God’s glory is on display in all of creation (Romans 1:19-20), but it culminates in his son. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
“In Christ we behold “the radiance of God’s glory” (Hebrews 1:3), and in the word we behold Christ (John 5:39).” And so it is with the lens of faith we begin to glimpse the glory of God, revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, through the principles and promises of the Bible.
But this kind of vision does not come naturally. Therefore, we adopt the plea of the psalmist who cried out to God, “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word” (Psalm 119:37).
We cultivate the discipline of regularly and intentionally observing God’s glory not only by studying his word, but in his church through worship, communion, baptism and the preaching of the word.
In daily life we prayerfully seek the Holy Spirit’s discernment in what we place before our eyes, be it movies, television, books, video games, websites, social media or political spectacles. And, admitting our tendency to distraction, we humbly rely on God’s grace on our behalf.
Jesus came, lived, died and rose again to sever our bondage to any and every glory substitute. Whatever glories this world has to offer, Christ’s is better. His is the only glory that can save. And as we peel our eyes away from the world and fix them on Jesus, his all-satisfying, soul-ravishing glory transforms us from the inside out (2 Corinthians 3:18).
We were made to behold glory. The question is, whose glory are we beholding?
Dani Potter is a member of Grace Church in Salida.