Glory: the shining

One of the challenges in writing on glory is that the word has such strong connotations for many. So, mention ‘glory’, and many start thinking of brightness; talk about glory being in people, and the obvious question then is, Why don’t more shine? In this excerpt from a chapter, I try to deal with that question…

Why don’t more shine?

A quick response: many do. Think of new moms, young brides, worshipers, artists, athletes, those who have discovered something, or been recently healed—people whose situation draws them toward what is good, pure, holy, true. We talk about the way such people glow: is this a mere figure of speech?

Now a longer reply, interacting a bit more with what Scripture has to say about the phenomena associated with glory, and how they vary. Bright light, loud noise, dense mass—these appear in various combinations on occasions glory is present, but reports about phenomena are not identical. Further, when John tells us that Jesus’ glory was revealed when He turned water to wine (John 2:11) without any mention of fireworks, we’re hearing that the way glory shows up is not so important as the reality of its presence.

Glory—that ‘part’ of God which can be perceived—will be evident in some fashion wherever it occurs. The specifics of that manifestation, however, are not always the same. There is, perhaps, a parallel with Paul’s teaching about the ‘fruit’ of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). According to the apostle, when Spirit is present in a life, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control will tumble out. All at once? Each in the same way for every person filled by Spirit?

No, to both. Rather, these qualities demonstrate Spirit’s presence; we ought to see such features in the lives of those in whom Spirit dwells. Indeed, it might even be that this fruit offers another way of thinking about glory, which also resides in those occupied by Spirit, and which becomes evident through phenomena that are by turns dramatic and rather mundane.

The point, it seems to me, is that when God is in people, that will be evident to others. How God is perceived won’t always be the same; it might even be true that lightning bugs are more common than lightning. But God will show up in ways that can be noticed.

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