Glory – obscurity, rejection, sacrifice, service, ridicule, obedience, death.
These are all the things the world ignores. These are things the world runs from and even despises. The world says “glory” is all about fame. Indiana Jones is forever chasing his “fortune and glory.”
In a way, I’m afraid — if we’re honest — we’re all chasing glory.
How do I get on TV? How do I retire at age 50? How do I get the lakehouse and the third car? How do I get the promotion and the big office? How do I get noticed? How do I get mentioned? How do I get a parade? How do I get my picture in the paper?
See, that’s the world’s definition of glory. And we can get caught up in all that. Whole churches can get caught up in that.
How can we grow to two-thousand members and go to three services? How can we attract wealthier people? How can we appeal to the right demographic? How can we get on TV? How can we get in the paper? How can we get noticed?
Preachers can get caught up in this chase for glory. How can I get invited to speak at ACU? How can I write an important book? How can I “wow” the audience? How do I get noticed? How do I get mentioned?
Glory. How do I get glory?
Jesus says if you want glory, you suffer. If you want life, you die. If you want victory, you surrender.
Jesus says, brother, forget the lakehouse and the new car and give that money to the single mom struggling in that apartment across town. Forget the promotion or the second job and spend your time and energy ministering to the teenager in your neighborhood who doesn’t have a dad. Churches, forget about growing big and concentrate on growing out. Forget about appealing to the right people and get enthusiastic about appealing to people who don’t have anything. Preacher, let go of wanting to “wow” the church and work more on submitting to the church and quietly and faithfully serving its people.
“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour?” ~John 12:27
Jesus is bothered, he’s distressed, not because he’s questioning his Father’s will or because he doesn’t understand. He’s troubled because he knows how hard it’s going to be. He understands perfectly everything the cross is going to mean. He sees the suffering and the pain and the death and the burial. And he trembles.
And at this moment, Jesus can pray one of two prayers.
“Father, save me from this hour.”
“Father, glorify your name.”
It’s the difference between losing your life and saving it. It’s the difference between rejecting the cross and picking it up, between serving yourself or serving others. It’s the choice between seeking glory the way the world defines glory — the way Indiana Jones sees it — or the way God defines it.
“Father, glorify your name.”
Our God’s great name is glorified every time we, individually and as a church, go against the world’s definition of glory and pursue God’s. Every time we sacrifice. Every time we serve. Every time we consider others better than ourselves. Every time we put somebody else first. Every time we submit to rejection and ridicule, every time we face suffering, every time we die in the manner of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, and for his glorious cause, we bring glory to God.
And that’s our God-created purpose. To participate personally in that eternal glory of God.