What is Glory?
What are we Christians looking forward to anyway? I just sat with a man who said, I honestly don't know what glory is or why it should motivate me, other than I suppose it is better than hell. It seems like that is not a very good motivation.
We do need to understand glory. As we understand glory, we will understand sin and why it is so harmful. We will understand love and why it is so divine. We will understand how we should live and where we are going.
Here are two great quotes from Jesus to describe glory: His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:21
I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:23-24 ESV)
I love those two pictures. Jesus wants us to be with him, and to enter into his joy. Have you ever been so in love with someone that all you wanted was to make them happy? Think of a moment when you completely lost yourself in making someone else happy, and they were enjoying it. In that moment, you received joy as a by-product. You did not seek it. You wanted to give joy, and you were delighted in the process.
That moment is a glimpse of glory. Your father in heaven wants nothing more than to give you joy, and for you to find your joy in him. Jesus, his son, wants to be with you, so he can enjoy you and you can enjoy him and the father. That mutual joy is glory.
Our future on the new Earth will be filled with God giving us good gifts just to make us happy. We will delight in those gifts, use them to his glory, explore them and revel in him. As we do that, we will make him happy. We will live in one continous upward spiral of mutual delight.
Hopefully that vision makes clear the ugliness of sin. We sin when we turn toward ourselves in an attempt to make ourselves happy. Those attempts only lead to sorrow and emptiness. So we try harder and harder, manipulating people, obsessively seeking after pleasure or success, all to find this elusive joy. We never find it. The search leaves us empty and alone. Ultimately, that quest to find joy in ourselves will lead us into the unending darkness of hell.
Russell Brand recently described that dark quest like this: there is a predominant voice in the mind of an addict that supersedes all reason and that voice wants you dead. This voice is the unrelenting echo of an unfulfillable void.
So you see, you have glimpses of glory and condemnation every day. Whenever you act out of unselfishly serve someone and see them smile, you experience a tiny glimpse of glory. Whenever you manipulate someone and use them to make yourself feel good, the dirty loneliness that follows is a foretaste of hell.
Jesus offers us rest, joy, the unending happiness of being loved. He offers us life. He offers us glory.