At a recent Home Group meeting, I came to an embarrassing realization: God’s glory really doesn’t matter than much to me. Even as I vocalized the words, I understood just how destructive this is to my life and ministry. As I’ve thought about it more, I’ve become painfully aware of how totally damaging this problem is.
Is Glory Bright or Heavy?
Often when I think of the idea of glory I think of something bright kind of like an angel glowing. Yet a better way to think of the glory of God might be to think of the weight of God. (Curiously C.S. Lewis uses the idea of brightness to talk about the glory of God in his address the Weight of Glory).
The heaviness of God is a better way to look at glory because, In the Old Testament the hebrew word that most english translations take as glory is the word, “kha’vod” which can be translated as weighty. The hebrew listener would understand that when the Scriptures were talking about the glory of God, in a very real sense it was talking about the weightiness of God or the heft of God in our life. (Something akin to the expression “throwing your weight around”)
In the Hebrew, there is also the idea of something being hollow, or without substance. Jeremiah talks about a hollow god. The word we see often for this emptiness, or weightlessness is, “shawe”. It’s interesting to see that in the Ten commandments where God commands that no one take his name in vain the hebrew is “shawe”. So God is commanding that no one treat his name as if it were weightless.
The sad thing is that while many devout Christians might avoid using God’s name as a curse, many more of us are guilty of treating God as weightless in our lives.
This might lead us to ask is God a heavy or a hollow part of our life? Not to suggest that we are weighed down by the burdens of God, but to ask, “are we giving God his proper place in our life?” When we neglect the glory of God, we are really denying the character of God, and say that God doesn’t matter much when there is no one more important to our lives.
We are Stealing from God
When I choose to focus on the outcome of situations from my perspective, I am stealing focus away from God that he deserves. If a project gets done, is it really something I did? If I deliver a message really well, was it my success? Everything I have comes from God, and trying to pretend like he isn’t steals from him. To neglect God as the source of every good gift in my life, leaves me in a position of trying to take credit for what God has done.
This is a Practical Problem
This is not just a philosophical problem, without the glory of God as our focus the entire Christian life becomes toxic, because the best actions with the wrong motivations are incredibly destructive. Without the glory of God: service becomes a place to show off; giving becomes a time to compare our success; and worship becomes an opportunity for competitive performances. When we remove the glory of God from its place in the Christian life everything gets twisted around. Seeking to do ministry without the glory of God at the center of our motivations is akin to try to play catch with a hand grenade. It’s going to go off, maybe you’ll be killed, or maybe you’ll just take someone else out, either way you will inflict damage.
Missing the glory of God might seem to be a secondary problem, but it’s not. We can’t just trudge along hoping that one day God’s glory will matter to us. If you are trying to live the Christian life and you don’t care about the glory of God, you need to stop whatever you are doing this very moment, and plead with the Spirit that he would give you a passion for God’s glory. Without it, we don’t really know God, we try to take credit due to him, and we put ourself and those around us in grave danger.