True Glory

Sunbeams

2 Corinthians 4:4 “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

“The light of the gospel of the glory of Christ”–that is a long, descriptive phrase. Paul is helping us to see Christ’s most important thing, his true glory. When many people think of glory, they think especially of God’s brilliant, blinding light that shines whenever he appears. We have Jesus shining like lightning at his Transfiguration. We have Moses face shining with the reflected glory of God, the glory his face absorbed from standing in God’s presence on Mount Sinai. When many think of God’s glory, they think of God’s holiness, his power, the things that put him at a distance from us and lift him far above us.

But one’s glory is closely tied to one’s reputation, the best thing about someone. That isn’t always what we expect. Maybe you saw a children’s movie a number of years ago based on the comic book character Ritchie Rich. The plot is based around Ritchie Rich trying to make friends, and thieves trying to break into the family vault to steal the Rich-family fortune. When the thieves finally get into the vault, they find nothing but cheap family memorabilia: old baby books, and photo albums, and school awards, and baby clothes. Ritchie’s parents, who have been bound and taken hostage, explain to the thieves that these things were their true treasures. They didn’t keep money and jewels in the vault. That wasn’t nearly so valuable.

In a similar way, the most important thing about Christ, his true glory, is not found in the power by which he controls the weather, heals diseases, and feeds the thousands. It is the gospel, the story of Jesus’ self-sacrificing love to save us. Paul wrote the Corinthians in his first letter to them, “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved….For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). That is the glory of Christ.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing; taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place…” (Philippians 2:5-9). That is the glory of Christ.

In the halls of heaven the holy ones sing to Christ the Lamb, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). That is the glory of Christ.

“No one has greater love than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). That is the glory of Christ, the substance of the gospel, the light that needs to shine from every pulpit and Christian classroom.

That is why “…we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” Jesus Christ, the Lord of love, the Lord of life, the Lord of salvation, is the substance of our message. If you do not find that gospel ringing in the preaching to which you listen, find someplace else to worship. If your children do not find that gospel shining on them in their Sunday School, find someplace else to take them on Sunday morning.

The glory of this gospel is not measured by crowd size or church growth. It can’t be proved by numbers on the church’s balance sheet. Changed hearts aren’t always as evident as we might like in visibly changed lives. But something shines, something burns in a heart that wasn’t there before. A child of God knows Jesus, and that light allows him to remain Jesus’ own forever and ever.

Let the Gospel Light Shine.

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