Hey there! I hope to approach this as an exploration of types of glory, as I think understanding ‘glory’ will help address the question at hand.
Back in high school I did IB, crazy times. In English Literature we looked at the translated novel ‘The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea’ by Yukio Mishima.
The story is about a man called Ryuji who’s held vague ideas of glory as a sailor, meets a woman called Fusako. Fusako has a 13 year old son Noboru who is in a group of savage boys holding concepts such as nihilism and the rejection of the adult world as illusory and sentimental. As Ryuji continues to meet with Fusako, he falls in love and is torn away from his hopes of achieving glory. Noboru having a secret voyeuristic ritual observing his mother realizes where Ryuji and Fusako’s relationship is leading, to marriage and to the shameful loss of Ryuji’s glory. Ultimately, Ryuji is murdered by Noboru and his friends.
The concept behind this death comes from Seppuku (voluntarily dying of honour than fall into the hands of the enemies to avoid shame). This is part of the ancient Samurai’s Bushido Code of Honour.
I find this fascinating! This is just one of the many concepts of ‘glory’ that people have.
What is glory?
The synonyms to ‘glory’ include:
Some may see ‘glory’ as a way to success. It may take sacrifice, hard work to achieve one’s dreams and goals. To be that superstar singer, actress, sportsman, to basically reach for the stars!
Once you have that success what does that result in?
- Positive Recognition (people notice you)
- Public praise (acknowledgement)
- Public respect and honour (Reputation)
- Role model of success, victory and achievement
This often is reflected or looked upon with great pride. You are proud of what you have done and where you have come.
Taking away the publicity, you’ve got victory instead of glory as it will be private success and achievement. This helps with the idea that you are your only competitor, not the world.
So why have we been created if God was the one who created us? What are His intentions?
Isaiah 43:7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made
But if God is a God of love, isn’t glory kind of a self centered thing? Imagine someone asking others to love them or praise them, isn’t that a bit too much? Does this prove that He created us out of His own need?
Just a few misconceptions some people may have that I’d like to address:
- Yes God seeks His praise and glory, but he does not force it. He gives us a choice.
- But what he offers foremost is a relationship with Him
- It’s a inclusive outward glory to which God wishes to share
Let’s look more at the concept of glory for people.
If you’ve ever heard of the term ‘basking in glory‘, this comes from Cialdini et al.’s social psychology study that explores our yearning to bask in the reflected glory of another’s success. It’s interesting how we like associating ourselves to something or someone’s success and this often comes with triumphing over something or someone else. We all have this desire but each of us likes to attach ourselves to some kind of team of ‘success’.
Glory and success are very much tied together. Take career planning for example —
Other people may seek religious or self-help ‘victory’ for self/personal triumph. This is not exactly glory as its more for personal growth. However, in cases where people see the change the religious/self-help gives that is desirable, that extends it to glory as it has been recognised and praised for it’s effectiveness. From the site I have linked it provides an interesting concept of glory. The writer questions if victory events are moments in time, if we strive to be in that state or are we always moving towards victory? Is it something that we find then it’s over or can victory become an integral part of our being?
The writer concludes with victory not as a one off event or outcome but being victorious is a constant state of being, it’s the direction we take. In a way it’s very similar to being successful. Why do people seek or want glory? Because glory is very much dependent on public opinion, it helps in building up self-esteem, self-worth and the image of the self. The ultimate purpose, is for yourself and no one else.
But what is glory like for God?
2 Peter 1:17-18
For he (Jesus) received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
It is important to understand in Christianity, we have God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. The Trinity is important to being more specific of the true God we are referring to. These three ‘persons’ as God are in relation with one another. As a relational being, He made us to be relational beings. As we can see in 2 Peter, Jesus receives honour and glory from God the Father.
John 8:54 Jesus replied, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.
God the Father is well pleased with His Son, as we see frequently throughout the bible Jesus withdrawing from crowds to spend time with the Father.
God also tells us the truth about ourselves, that we seek glory from one another – like basking in football teams to reflect their glory on us for example.
John 5:44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
We seek glory, that’s not a bad thing, but the better question to ask is perhaps where should we seek glory from?
Jesus prays for all his believers that:
John 17:22 I have given them (believers) the glory that you (God the Father) gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
That really opened my eyes. The ‘world’ associates glory with success. But Jesus associates glory with unity. To be brought to complete unity in love. Whether we like it or not we will always be giving the praise to something, like someone’s talent or even to ourselves. To glorify God however, is to enter a loving unity with Him and all those who believe in Him, as part of our new family!
If God wanted to share with us His glory, why did he put in motion the most unattractive heroic act? To be an innocent lamb led into the slaughterhouse and be slain? Surely there’s another more epic way whereby a bigger crowd of people would be attracted to?
Genuineness and humbleness, the ultimate demonstration of love. It’s not like people were cheering on him or saw the greatness of his sacrifice. People wanted him dead, had no respect, humiliated him and Jesus sacrificed himself for these people. For people who didn’t want to see his glory. The glory they did not see coming, was Jesus’ resurrection and him conquering death!
John 17:1 After Jesus said this, he looked towards heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that you Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Final point, there is a difference between God the Father, Son and Spirit’s glory and the glory He shares with us. I don’t understand the exact ratios or anything nor do I think it can be calculated. All I know is that God being our creator has the greatest glory. He has had the glory even before the world began. He didn’t need us to glorify Him but this glory, He is willing to share with us as we trust in Him and that glory will be magnified as His kingdom comes.