Let me lighten up a tiny bit – this isn't just you. It is all of us.
These tendencies to glory have infiltrated many civilisations and societies throughout history; indeed, they seem to be laid at their foundations. Alexander the Great and Achilles wanted nothing more than to be remembered throughout time as the greatest conquerors and warriors the world had known. Michael Jordan wanted that next championship so he could become that little bit better than the others; that little bit better than the best. Did they succeed? Were they satisfied?
Man seeks glory. It is that simple. We crave it. On the sports field, on the big screen, and on the battlefield, man is on a never-ending quest to be a part of something awesome. To feel important and be remembered. To be glorified.
This quest for glory reaches far and wide, across boundaries of time and geography and has had no mercy on the human heart, even those within the church. From the super-cool pastor with a mansion and Mercedes, to the zealous Crusader waging holy war 1,000 years ago, the Body of Christ seems to consist of a whole bunch of body parts trying (sinfully) and failing (miserably) to be the Head.
You may reply – How does this affect me? I'm not a glory-hoarding pastor with a taste for fast cars and big houses. Nor am I a yes-man of yore, sailing for thousands of miles to take an ancient city from some dudes in turbans. My response – You are a glory seeker. Perhaps not in the same way as these two examples, but a glory seeker nonetheless. You seek glory every time you (as a Christian):
â€¢ Pray in high and lofty words, so as to demonstrate your eloquence and spirituality before God and neighbour
â€¢ Read your Bible and pray like a robot so as to tick a box and please your box-ticking Father in heaven
â€¢ Think and live as if your safe passage to heaven is entirely dependent on how spiritual you are and how many "Christian" things you can do in 24 hours
â€¢ Speak and live as if you actually deserve every good thing you have in your life.
Like a virus, this innate thirst for glory has spread through the human race, devouring all resistance that it faces and planting within us desire after desire to make much of ourselves. It started in a garden a long, long time ago, with our father and mother disobeying the Father of All, thinking they could operate on level terms with Him.
When they realised they had done wrong, bold attempts were made to hide their guilt, ranging from the folly of fig leaves to the darkness of the blame game (Genesis 3 verses 7-13). Their pursuit of self-glorification lead not only to their fall, but also to The Fall, the cosmic plummet of man into sinful rebellion where our sole aim now is to usurp the King at every opportunity and dethrone Him if we can.
Now don't get me wrong – glory is not a bad word. Nor should the pursuit of it be forgotten entirely. As with many things, it needs to be thought of in the right way. And as with all things in the Christian life, it needs to be thought of through the interpretive lens that Jesus placed over the Word – Himself (John 5 verses 39-40).
The Christian life is not primarily one of glorious living, but one of glorious dying. We are called, as followers of Christ, to follow him. And where does that path lead? To mocking, derision and persecution. Possibly even further to torture and death. Those are the paths that our Shepherd walked, and we are called to do the same.
That sounds hard as, right? Yes, it is so, so hard. However, there is one foundational truth that opens our minds and hearts, energises us for the path, and picks us up when we fall off – the Gospel. The Good News of Jesus Christ, with his perfectly obedient life, perfectly satisfying death, and perfectly consummating resurrection, is the ignition and fuel for this hard call.
Instead of enjoying the sweetness and fullness of the everlasting glory that only the Son of God deserved, he willingly put on inferior flesh in order to make a way for his rebellious creation to enjoy his rightful glory with him. By bearing their sin in his body on the cross, taking it to the grave, and then rising into new life with it still dead in the tomb, he paved the true way to glory for those who wish to walk in it. The acceptance criteria – your admission that you don't deserve to get there.
In fact, the admission that you deserve the opposite. This way is a narrow road heading away from a much wider one, filled with proud people who love themselves so much that they refuse to turn around.
God does not call us to climb a ladder to glory. He calls us to stop climbing, look up, and see the One who climbed down for us into our sinful filth and raises us with him into his glorious victory.
Cody Knox lives in Wellington, New Zealand. He works in ICT for the New Zealand government and in his free time he loves to read, write, and run.
Cody Knox's previous articles may be viewed here www.pressserviceinternational.org/cody-knox.html