Glory in the Church

“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” ~Colossians 1:27

“To him be glory in the Church.” ~Ephesians 3:21

“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” ~1 Corinthians 10:31

Glory of God in the ChurchGod reveals his glory to us in the soul-stirring words of Exodus 34. God tells us very clearly that his glory has nothing to do with the way he looks. It’s not about his power or his rule. It’s about his character. It’s who God is. God’s self-revealing statements in Exodus 34 are the “I AM” defined.

Compassionate. Gracious. Slow to anger. Abounding in love. Faithful. Forgiving.

If the world really understood these things about our God they would beat down our doors to get to know him better. They’d be lined up around the block. We couldn’t keep them out. But how will they comprehend our God’s eternal qualities if they don’t see those characteristics reflected in God’s redeemed people? How will they know the character of our God, how will they see his glory, unless his Church shows it?

Why do people think God is grumpy and always on the hunt to judge and punish somebody? Do they see that in us? Have they seen that in you? Why do they think our God is distant, out of reach, untouchable, and unable to meet their deepest needs? What would make them think that? Have they experienced that in you? Why do some people believe God can’t forgive them, that he remembers their past sins? Have they noticed that in me or in my church?

As God’s children, we are called to reflect his glory. To live it. To reveal it. Embody it.

A lot of people say we are the hands and feet of Jesus. A real understanding of what it means for us to reflect his glory tells us the Church is actually the very heart of God. The glory of God.

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Austin GradI just completed all my registration forms for the 29th annual Sermon Seminar at Austin Graduate School of Theology late next month. It’s always an intense 48-hours of exegesis and outlines and sermon prep at the feet of the best scholars/preachers practicing today. I’ve been blessed in the past to work under Ben Witherington, Tony Ash, Rick Marrs, Eddie Sharp, Glenn Pemberton, Tom Olbricht, James Thompson, and Harold Shank, to name just a brief few. I’ve been inspired and encouraged and convicted during these serious sessions.

But this next one is shaping up to potentially be the best I’ve ever attended.

My great friend Jim Martin is presenting 2 Corinthians. And he’s the perfect guy to do it. Jim is a compassionate comforter. He’s sensitive to people and their deepest needs. He embodies the message of 2 Corinthians with his every breath. The legendary Rubel Shelly is presenting the Sermon on the Mount. Jim Reynolds is discussing the Old Testament Story. And Paul Watson is back to show us how he preaches Ezekiel. I love Ezekiel because he is such a crazy, over-the-top prophet. Ezekiel’s prophesy illustrations were exotic and unforgettable. And Paul Watson really knows how to make the biblical text come alive. I was moved by his presentations of Jonah and Ruth and Daniel in 2006. Those sessions helped shape our Missions Month this year at Legacy. And I know he’s going to make Ezekiel pop for us this year in Austin.

Everett Ferguson, the world’s foremost authority on early church history, is presenting a special session on “Baptism in the Early Church: What I Learned and What Surprised Me”¬†and Wendel Willis is hosting a Q&A session on “Lord’s Supper Theology and Practice.”

Are you kidding me? I can’t wait.

If you’re a preacher, you should make the Austin Grad Sermon Seminar an annual event on your calendar. You’ll be better for being there. And so will your church.

Peace,

Allan

3 Comments

  1. Cynthia Agnell

    Thanks for the publicity for Sermon Seminar. It really does look like it will be an exceptional Seminar. However, as the recruiter/PR person for Austin Grad, I will gladly accept all the help I can get!!

    Thanks also for the phone call. In the blog world you are known as “Old Faithful.” So a week+ without a blog caused me a little concern.

    See You in May.

  2. Rob's Dad

    “Old Faithful” – what an image that brings to mind….

    Speaking of images, what do you think is the image in most people’s mind when they think of God or Jesus? I mean the actual picture. We all have certain images that perfectly capture something or someone. I’ve never been to a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving meal but that is an image that is widely known.

    Try a simple Google Images search and God is an angry looking old white guy (think Chuck Heston as Moses) or sunlight coming through clouds. Jesus is a wimpy white guy with perfect hair and backlit or He is a 8lb 6oz baby in golden fleece diapers.

    Maybe those inside the church as well as those outside have put God and Jesus into tidy little pictures and then act accordingly.

  3. Ricky Graves

    I know God is compassionate, but do you think God is happy with mankind? He made us in his own image which includes free will. Free will is a powerful thing and just like the people described in Romans 1:18 through the end of the chapter, mankind has made its choices and will have to live with them. We as Christians and children of God have to hate the sin but love the sinner just as God dose.
    My image of God is ever changing. If you can remember as a little kid how big a smile that your Mom or Dad had when you received an award at school for special achievement or did something in sports that was out standing. That’s how I view God. He’s cheering me on through this race. He’s jumping up and down giving me encouragement all along the way and will be there with open arms to greet me when the race is over shouting I knew you could do it, I knew you could do it.
    The other image of God is the same one that you got from your Mom or Dad when you disappointed them. It’s the one that if you ever saw it once you never wanted to see it again. I think that’s how God feels about us when we give up or we exercise our free will and try to do things other then his will.

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