That He might present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she would be holy and without blemish.
The Lord desires to have a church that is “glorious.” What does it mean to be glorious? What is glory? It’s quite ironic to me that most believers I know use the term “glory” all the time, yet few can actually define it.
The common thought concerning glory is usually Tim Tebow kneeling in the end zone saying “Glory be to God!” Such a view concerns me for two reasons. One, how do you differentiate that definition of glory from praise? Two, who really receives the glory in that situation? If you’re anything like me, Tim Tebow’s acknowledgement of God and giving Him credit really lead to more glory for Tebow. All the Christians watching that game who already liked Tim just love him all the more after such a comment. How is that glorifying God?
We really need to define terms before throwing them around. You might say that the purpose of a Christian is to glorify God. I would agree. But what do you mean when you say that? Do you mean that Christians can do whatever they want to do, so long as they give God all the credit in the end? Here I will try to give a biblical definition of glory and better help Christians realize what the Lord means when He says that He wants a “glorious church.”
Tabernacle and Temple
Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle.
The description of glory in the Old Testament sheds great light into a proper definition. When observing the filling of the Tabernacle and the Temple (1 Kings 8:11) with the glory of Jehovah, you see that glory is just God expressed. Because God is light (1 Jn. 1:5), the glory was the expression of God as light.
Moses Giving the Law
And he was there with Jehovah forty days and forty nights…and when Moses came down from Mount Sinai…Moses did not know that the skin on his face shone by reason of His speaking with Him.
Moreover if the ministry of death, engraved in stone letters, came about in glory, so that the sons of Israel were not able to gaze at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, a glory which was being done away with.
2 Corinthians 3:7
Being in the presence of God, who is light, caused Moses’ face to shine back the light of God. This is described as glory in 2 Corinthians 4.
I have glorified You on earth
No one would disagree with the fact that Jesus perfectly glorified God while on Earth. Undoubtedly, there was never a moment during His 33 years of life in the flesh that the Son didn’t glorify the Father. However, the Tim Tebow definition wouldn’t make sense in the case of Jesus glorifying God.
Then He poured water into the basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet.
And being in agony He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling upon the ground.
And they crucified Him and divided His garments.
Does anyone actually believe that Jesus was shouting “Glory be to God!” during the entirety of His life? What about just living in a victorious and God-magnifying manner? How does one say that Jesus was glorifying God while He washed the disciples’ feet, prayed to the point of sweating blood, or being crucified half-naked? The stereotypical understanding of glory has no place here.
Jesus did glorify God in the verses above, just not in a way that most think. He glorified God by expressing His wonderful divine attributes within the human virtues. God was glorified, for His humility and servant-heart was expressed. God was glorified, for the Son received the power from on high as His source of strength. God was glorified, for His universal love for man was displayed in Christ’s sacrificial act.
Everyone should want to glorify God. The problem is that nobody knows what glory even is. Glory is God expressed. The only way to express God is to have God in Christ by the Spirit dispensed into your being that He might be lived out:
That Christ may make His home in your heart through faith
My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you
I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.
For to me, to live is Christ
Flamingos are actually born grey. They are quite ugly birds by nature. The pink pigment displayed in the picture at the beginning of this post comes from the plankton they eat. If you were to increase the carotenoid concentration in their diet (as they do in zoos), the flamingos would be an even more radiant pink.
We are like flamingos. We are born human. We have no natural divinity or godliness in our living. However, when our diet is filled with Christ, we begin to shine and express this One that we are eating:
I am the living bread which came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever.
We need to be transformed to glorify God. Its not a matter of what we say, do, and feel. God can only be glorified by transforming us, the believers who compose His church, and making us glorious:
That He might sanctify her (the church), cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word, that He might present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she would be holy and without blemish.
But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18
When we are transformed from glory to glory, we shall become God’s glorious church. God is not glorified solely by an acknowledgment of His greatness and sovereignty. He is primarily glorified by and in His church:
To Him be the glory in the church
When He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed
2 Thessalonians 1:10a
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I always love the flamingo illustration!
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Never thought of us being like the flamingos, but it makes sense. The more we eat Christ, let Him work in our being, and are being transformed, we become something – we are made into the same image as He is, from glory to glory! Amen, Lord, gain Your glory – in us, in humanity!