Recently, I began studying through the book of Hebrews. In the opening paragraph, it has this sentence: “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God”.
This concept of “God’s glory” is one that I’ve been trying to understand. What does that phrase actually mean??
Other literary references to “glory” have helped me understand a bit more. Sentences like, “her hair was her glory”, “the glories of Paris shone brightly” and “the train has been restored to all its former glory” provide a bit of a reference point. A glory, or something we glory in, is as Webster puts it, “a special cause for pride, respect, or delight”. (I know this is a WAY incomplete discussion on the concept of God’s glory…but it was enough for me to explore the thoughts below!).
So I started thinking about God and Jesus. God sent Jesus as the exact representation of God Himself. God, the creator of the Universe, outside space and time, found a way to “package” Himself in Jesus in such a way that He could more fully communicate His character to people.
What fascinates me the most, what most deeply touches my heart, is the packaging that God chose, the packaging that God would “glory” or take delight in.
Of all the forms He could have chosen, He came reaching out his hand to touch the untouchable. He came comforting the shameful as they wept. He came kneeling before us and washing our filthy feet. My mind can barely comprehend why he chose such humility.
William Barclay, in his commentary on Hebrews, says it so perfectly:
“…we see with amazing clarity that the glory of God consists not in crushing men and reducing them to abject servitude, but in serving them and loving them and in the end dying for them. It is not the glory of shattering power but the glory of suffering love”.
“It is not the glory of shattering power but the glory of suffering love”. This changes everything for me.
My performance-based, guilt-ridden self is often filled with dread and shame when I go to pray. My life falls short in many ways of being who I should be in Christ. However, when I think of God, in ALL His glory, choosing the way of gentleness, mercy and love in His approach to us, and not the way of condemnation and anger, I am reminded that He is not waiting to punish me.
He is the gentle husband comforting his wife when she feels like she doesn’t measure up…again. He is the loving father reassuring his children of his love even in their worst and most confused moments. And amazingly, it is in these moments of remembering His love, His character, and NOT in my moments of harsh self-correction and/or condemnation, that I find strength, relief and oftentimes even a better way forward.
I wish I could say that I lived in this perspective everyday. I would love to say that I bask in the grace of God and that self-condemnation has no place in my life. I can’t say those things. This is another way that I fall short in my walk with God. I take comfort in Paul’s statement:
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Phil. 3:12
I believe that God wants me (us) to live as someone who is deeply and profoundly loved. I don’t know how to fully grasp this truth and that is a huge part of why I wanted to write this post. Maybe, by writing it out, by having it “on paper” to read over and over, it will start to sink in. Maybe then I will be able to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.