By Stephanie Parker
I used to be an art auctioneer on cruise ships. I had the opportunity to travel extensively and meet people from all over the world on every single cruise. After a while, I started recognizing some common characteristics from certain people groups. There was one nationality in particular that I knew would bargain tooth and nail with me almost every time. I woulddread having conversations with them because I knew all too well how challenging it would likely be. I would always try to go into a conversation with an open mind but this particular people group consistently displayed an insatiable need to negotiate EVERYTHING for HOURS! It drove me nuts if I’m honest…until I visited their country. Then it made sense. In EVERY store, regardless of what was being sold, negotiation was the rule, not the exception. From a young age, children learned that the first price is NEVER the real price. So this art of negotiation became their second nature, their identity. I came to associate this particular country and those born and raised there, as bargainers. You see, whether we like it or not, where we come from, shapes who we are in many ways.
Once you become a Christian, this world is no longer your home. Our place of origin is no longer planet Earth. That may sound funny but the Bible says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you” (Colossians 3:1-5).
In John 8:23, Jesus is very clear that His home was not an earthly one, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23).
So do our lives reflecting where we come from? More importantly, are we reflecting WHO we come from?
This brings me to today’s Bible study topic… God’s glory. The way we live our lives as Christians is supposed to reflect God’s glory. Christ followers can directly drive another person toward or away from Jesus. I’m sure you all know someone who won’t step foot in a church because a ‘Christian’ poorly represented Christ. If we are reflecting God’s glory well, however, the results will be nothing short of glorious.
As I embark on this topic of God’s glory, I must admit that as a younger Christian, I struggled with this idea that God appeared to be so glory hungry. It seems the central theme of scripture is the glorification of God. I know there are a lot of believers and non-believers that struggle with the idea of God’s sole purpose being his own glory. Would a God who hates pride be so prideful as to demand glory for himself? This particular day of homework reveals something so important to the topic of God’s glory that I hope it revolutionizes the way you think and how we glorify God to the world around us.
I believe that many Christians have a slightly distorted idea about what the glory of God means…I know I did. The idea of glory has been widdled down to our human understanding and definition of it. We view glory as high renown or honor for someone or something. When someone says, “those were my glory days,” they are referring to when they were living in the prime of life. When we view God’s glory in this limited scope, we are missing is who he is. If we miss who he is, we miss everything.
Yes, God’s glory can partially be defined by our limited definition of the term ‘glory’ (renown and honor) but it is so much more than that. God’s glory is who God is. I call myself an American, a mother and a wife, among other titles. In a similar way, glory is the very essence of God. It’s his nature, his personality, his attributes. His glory is what radiates from him if he were standing in the room with us. Just like the people on the cruise ship who couldn’t help but negotiate because that is part of who they were, God can’t help but display his glory because it’s who he is! God’s glory is an all-encompassing descriptor for the many characteristics of God. God is love, peace, joy, forgiveness, healing, provision, justice, kindness, patience, goodness, eternal life, creation, and a million other things. God IS glory. Have you ever stood in the presence of someone who literally encompassed all of the characteristics that I mentioned above? Of course not, because no one like that exists on this earth today…. That’s why it’s so hard for us to wrap our minds around the concept of ‘the glory of God.’ Moses asked God to show him his glory (Exodus 33:18). Moses’ response once he saw God’s glory, should definitely help expand our definition of what glory really means. “The Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression...” (Exodus 34:6-7).
When Moses saw God’s glory, he was overwhelmed with characteristics that described the nature of God. When we meet another person for the first time, it would take some significant time to really get to know their character, to find out if they are trustworthy, kind, honest, forgiving, etc. It might take a lifetime to really and truly know someone. In Moses’ encounter with God, however, it seems all of his characteristics just jumped out at him without God saying a word. I can imagine that might be an amazing experience! So, to see God’s glory, is, quite simply, to know God through and through. In scripture, when people have stood in the presence of God’s glory, there are three reactions to it:
• People fall on their faces in worship and awe of God. If you are able to see all the characteristics of God in one fell swoop, just by being in his presence, it would definitely be an awe-inspiring event. The very ability to see and know God in such an intimate way in an instant has made many men in the Bible fall to the ground in complete surrender and worship.
• People feel unworthy to be in the presence of the glory of God. They become terrified that they will never survive such an intimate encounter with the God of the universe because, in light of God’s perfect glory, they are immediately struck with the depravity of their own sin.
• People have this overwhelming desire to serve him once they experience his glory and all the different facets of what his glory entails. After seeing the glory of God, they couldn’t help but want a little part of it.
(Judges 6:22, Genesis 16:13, Isaiah 6:5, Genesis 32:30, Judges 13:22)
When Isaiah had a vision of the throne-room of God, he experienced all of the reactions mentioned above (Isaiah 6: 1-8):
‘In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’
God’s very presence, his essence, his nature, his personality, is an all-encompassing glory that radiates from who he is. Isaiah felt an immediate call to worship and service and became aware and convicted of his own sin simply by standing in his presence.
Ok so here’s where it gets exciting. God’s desire from the beginning of time has been for us to share in his glory. Think about it, he created us in his image (Genesis 1:27) to enjoy his creation with him, to walk in the garden WITH him. When sin got in the way, he found other ways to dwell with is people through the tabernacle (Exodus 25:8) and by appearing to the prophets through visions and dreams, and finally, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God pursued closeness with us even if it meant sacrificing his own son. He wanted us to be able to experience his glory because he knew that it would result in an ability to live in the the peace, joy, purpose, freedom and life that are part of his nature. So glorifying God is simply saying:
• I want to know you and make you known.
• I want to be like you.
• I want to serve you.
We don’t glorify God to puff up his ego, we glorify God because his deepest desire is for us to live in the freedom that is found when we know and love him. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1).
God, the creator of the universe wants to share his glory with US! What!?
Jesus and the Holy Spirit make it possible for God to share his glory with us. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is the glory of God in human form. We can only know who God is and radiate God’s glory to others if we believe in and live for Jesus and allow God’s Spirit to take precedence over our lives.
You want another glimpse into God’s glory… into who he is? Look to the Spirit. God giving us the Spirit is his way of allowing his glory to dwell in and through us. Love, freedom, power, peace, joy, patience, life, self-control, purpose, and so much more is available for us if we believe. God’s glory is already living in you if you are a believer. So why isn’t God’s glory more evident in the lives of believers today? Here are a few ideas:
• We don’t really believe that we are already citizens of God’s kingdom and children of God. If we did, it would be evident that we aren’t from here. That our true home is not of this world.
• We might have prayed the prayer of salvation but we haven’t made him the Lord of our lives. We talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. We don’t intentionally spend time in God’s Word, seeking to truly know and love him more…We haven’t fully surrendered and given God complete reign over our hidden sins, our pride our idolatry (things that take precedence over God), etc. Truly getting know God cures the fear that commonly surrounds not being bold in our faith.
• We don’t want to show people our unspoken broken. If God’s glory is displaying the fullness of who he is, why are we so unwilling to share the fullness of who we are to others? I truly believe that when we are willing to show others our own brokenness and our desperate need for a Savior, the glory of God shines through more easily and is received more readily.
Just like the “bargainers” on the cruise ship I worked on painted a picture of their country of origin, we can paint a positive picture of what the term “Christian” means when we seek to radiate the glory of God to those around us!
You truly are worthy of all praise. To think that you would want to share your glory with a sinful, selfish, prideful person like me absolutely blows my mind and humbles me to the chore. I know you must dearly love me to have gone to the lengths that you did in hopes of being close to me. God let me truly know you and all of your glory so that your glory can radiate and change the world around me. Help me die to myself so that you can live in and through me. Amen.
Stephanie Parker has three main loves: God, her husband, Brett and her kids! When Stephanie created the Zipadee-Zip in an effort to solve her daughter, Charlotte's, sleep issues, she never imagined that it would become a business. She is incredibly grateful to God for how Sleepingbaby.com has grown and how it has enabled other families to get the restful sleep they need. Stephanie's husband, Brett Parker assumed the role of CEO which has allowed Stephanie to focus on what she loves which is the creative side of the company, like product and print development. After the Zipadee-Zip was featured on Shark Tank, Stephanie went on to create the book Shepherd's Treasure, a Christian alternative to Elf on the Shelf. In her free time, Stephanie loves to spend time with her family and friends. Her hobbies include acting, singing, painting, learning and speaking foreign languages and going on adventures with her family! You will find her all summer waterskiing, fishing and laughing with her family on the weekends.