Defining Christianese: God’s Glory

After spending a lot of time with a particular person or group of people, have you ever found yourself using the same vocabulary and expressions as someone else? It’s only natural. In fact, not too long ago I met a certain individual, and I was astounded by how much he sounded and acted like a mutual friend of ours…

Did you realize that this same phenomenon occurs within the church? Christians who have been in church for a long time use a different vocabulary than those who are unchurched. We’ve developed this sort of language–Christianese–that many people just don’t understand… And in all reality, many of our fellow believers don’t even understand some of our Christian words. So let’s take a moment to discuss one of them…

Glory. Or Glory of the Lord. If I were to ask you to define it, could you? What exactly does it mean for God to have Glory?

In 1 Samuel 4, the Philistines slaughter the Israelites on the battlefield and capture the Ark of the Covenant. The High Priest, Eli, and his sons all die in the process. Eli’s daughter-in-law, in shock, goes into a dangerous bout of labor, and as she’s about to die, she names her newborn son Ichabod, which means “The glory of God has departed from Israel.” What a fantastic name, right?

In his sermon, “To Him Be Glory Forevermore,” John Piper defines glory as “the manifest beauty of God’s holiness.” In other words, because God is SO intrinsically holy–separate, unequalled, perfect–God sets his holiness on display (glory) so we might see and apprehend it. Which begs the question: how can we see God’s glory (the beauty of his holiness)? It is through his character and worth and many attributes…

For Eli’s daughter-in-law, being a child of God had lost its beauty. In the midst of all the tragedy, God did not seem beautiful or holy or perfect. Yet in reality, God (and his holiness) never changed; Israel had just become numb to the Lord’s presence. Relationship became routine…

I wonder today whether or not this reflects our attitude toward the Christ-life. When tragedy strikes, is God still beautiful to you or does he appear cruel? When God seems distant, has his presence really left you or have you just succumbed to the numbness that comes with routine?

May we have a fresh revelation of his glory today. May we spend enough time with him to reflect his words and expressions. May we never lose our wonder.

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