Last week in our first post of the New Year, we discussed how ambition has been viewed by certain Christian leaders throughout history. It wasn’t pretty. If you haven’t read that post, click here. Today we will dive back into Scripture to demonstrate how any vision for godly ambition must be grounded in the bedrock of God’s glory.
You’ve probably heard of storm chasers. They’re the folks who dedicate their lives to running after storms, even at great risk to themselves. If a tornado is barreling down on some Midwestern town, these lunatics are speeding up the road to catch it. They’re in pursuit of this spectacular force of nature.
You may not chase tornadoes (though if you have small kids, it probably feels like you do), but we’re all born glory chasers. Glory moments stir us. Just think about what pushes your elation-button. Your favorite team wins the championship. You read about a blind man climbing Mount Everest. You watch an Olympic gymnast dismount flawlessly to grab the gold. You learn that Beethoven would sit down and improvise pieces at the piano that witnesses swear were finer than his written compositions. You hear the story again of Wilberforce prevailing over Parliament to end the slave trade.
We’re awed by great comebacks, heroic efforts, sacrificial endurance, and extraordinary gifts. Glory arrests our attention. That’s not a defect; it’s why we were created. We are wired for glory.
The Westminster Divines (that group of pastors who composed the Westminster Confession of Faith) understood this. “Man’s chief end,” they said, is tied to our glory instinct; it’s “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
Finding the Right Glory
But what is glory? The New Testament word—doxa—speaks of worth and dignity and weight. It’s most often applied to God. Glory is about His radiance and splendor. It’s more than an attribute though; it exists to be seen and recognized. It results in reputation, esteem, standing, honor. At its core, glory is about inherent value that’s clearly recognizable to others. It draws attention. Like a magnet, the blazing value of glory attracts us. Glory incites awe.
The Bible presents us with a God who is glorious in himself (Ex. 33:18–22; Isa. 42:8; 48:11; 60:1–2; Rev. 21:23) and whose glory is recognized and acknowledged (Ex. 15:6; Ps. 66:2; 76:4; 145:5). In a profound sense, this glorious God created the cosmos to display his glory, his worth, his value.
To whom? To a special creature who could take it in, make some sense of it, and rejoice over the worth of his Creator—to us! That’s what the Bible means when it calls us to glorify God. We can’t make him something he already is—glorious. But we can recognize the glory that radiates from him, value it properly, and give God his due.
Seeing the Embodiment of God’s Glory
But glory is not just the magnificent splendor surrounding God. The glory of God became embodied in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3). In John, Jesus refers to himself as the Glory that comes from God. In fact, he’s mystified that people feast off of the praise of each other when the glory of God stands among them. “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5: 44)
We are rightly stirred by the amazing achievements of people or the awe-inspiring power of the natural world. But we dare not stop our wonder there. Those are designed to point beyond themselves to the wondrous glory of God, manifest in the person of Jesus Christ. To pursue glory is to pursue Christ and seek to “also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will (you) do, because I am going to the Father” (John 14: 12).
And when Christ becomes the north pole of our glory magnets, our desires and ambitions begin to fall into their proper place. Living for the glory of God inspires us to undertake glorious works that return great glory to God in Christ.
The more we see God’s glory, the more our paltry ambitions that end in the glory of created things will fall away. If we’re enamored by him, we will aim for the greater display of his glory in the world through our lives.
Tenacious Tuesday Questions
What stirs your ‘glory magnet’? What is it that brings wonder to your soul? How might these things direct your gaze beyond themselves to the glory of the one who embodied God’s glory and do the greater works?
Lord God, your glory far eclipses even the most wondrous events of nature or the greatest achievements of man. I pray you would work in me so deeply today that those things which I find glorious on earth would be like tractor beams diverting my eyes to you, the Great Source of the True Light of all glory.