Glory from God


“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 ESV

This verse was in my Bible reading this morning. It struck me, but I wasn’t sure what was meant by it. In this passage Jesus is talking about those who bear witness for him, and how the Jews have not believed any of them. As I was reading I kept thinking, “well I believe that witness, check….” But this question of Jesus could not be so easily resolved. Yes, I believe, I hardly if ever remember a time when I didn’t believe. But here it seems he’s referring to actions. Ok, you say you believe, but how does your life reflect that belief? If you seek glory from one another and not from God, do you really, deep in your core, believe?

I wasn’t quite sure how this question applied to my life. How do I seek glory from people instead of seeking it from God? I then began reading more of A Glimpse of Jesus, by Manning. It’s funny to me that when I think I’m avoiding something, God always leads me back and makes it clearer. The chapter I began reading was entitled “Healing through Meal-Sharing.” Ok, it sounded benign enough. But as I read I was convicted. How often do I ignore people because I think they aren’t good enough? How often do I avoid the sinners Jesus fellowshipped with? Is this one way where I seek glory from men and not from God? I kept reading…

“The Church is a healing community proclaiming the Father’s indiscriminate love and unconditional grace, offering pardon, reconciliation and salvation to the down-trodden and leaving the judgment to God…Such a Church is then aware that it has no need to present a spectacle of higher morality to society, as if everything in it were ordered to the best. It is aware that its faith is weak, its knowledge dim, its profession of faith halting, that there is not a single sin of failing which it has not in one way or another been guilty of…If the Church self-righteously remains aloof from failures, irreligious and immoral people, it cannot enter justified into God’s kingdom. But if it is constantly aware of its guilt and sin, it can live in joyous awareness of forgiveness. The promise has been given to it that anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Hans Küng, qtd in Manning, emp mine)

This opened up ideas I hadn’t thought of before. The churches I grew up in were the opposite of this picture. Everyone was perfect. Many were fairly affluent. We presented a picture to others of having it all together. This either helped to mold me or appealed to me because I am a perfectionist through and through. When I would read the “sin lists” I would think, “Thank goodness, none of those apply to me!” I recently realized that lack of trust, which I have been struggling mightily with, is not a small sin to God. But still I was not convicted that I was a big “sinner.” I have always felt in the story in Luke seven, I identified with the Pharisee who was forgiven little and loved little. (I know I was walking on dangerous ground.) I have lately been confronted that I’m not perfect, far from it. (I know a surprise to many. I was shocked too.) But still I would not allow myself to see it. Some of what I grew up with, and the God I had seen in church didn’t accept you if you weren’t perfect. So I admitted I wasn’t perfect then what would I do?

Then, when I read the words of Küng above, I felt release. You mean I can admit my sins, admit I’m not perfect and still be accepted? You mean this is the type of people Christ seeks, not those who present a clean face, but those who aren’t afraid to come when they are not yet clean? I had never connected the idea of sin and joy before. You mean the more I am aware of where I stand, the more joy I can have because I am aware of just what Christ can mean to me? I have heard this all my life. It’s printed on every page on the Bible, but I guess when so few Christians live this it’s hard to really believe. I’m not blaming others, but I don’t think we realize just how much we reflect what the world and other Christians believe about God and Christ. We can read it, but if we don’t see it, it’s hard to believe. Where I go to church now is better at accepting hurting sinners than any church I’ve ever been to, but still the lessons take time to set in.

In seeking the glory of people, I failed to realize how much I was missing out on. When I seek the glory that comes from the world, I have to hide so much of myself to be accepted. We all are, to some extent, like politicians trying to keep all of the skeletons hidden in our closets. If the public finds out what we’re really like then we fear, many times rightly, that they won’t love us or give us the glory anymore. It’s sad that we often feel this way around Christians too.

But I am tired of it. I’m weary with trying so hard to keep up appearances just to be accepted. Often times by people who I don’t even know and really shouldn’t care about. I want to lean how to seek the glory that comes from God. Learn to love and accept others, and myself, where we are without condemnation like Jesus did and does through us.

Two thougths…


First thought:
Yesterday we decided to go grill out on the beach for New Years. It had been raining on and off, but in Hawaii rain usually lasts only a few minutes then the sun comes out again. We went clear around to the farthest tip on the leeward side of the Oahu—one of the driest spots on the island.

Well, yesterday it was not one of the driest spots. It rained and rained. Several times we hopped into the truck and tried to wait it out. This is Hawaii, rain isn’t supposed to change plans. It did. We finally gave up and came home. Usually this would ruin a perfectly good afternoon. But as we drove home I kept thinking to myself, “No matter what we’re still in Hawaii.” Something that would usually really upset me—yes I am a perfectionist planner who can’t stand to have anything changed—didn’t matter at all, because I was still in one of the prettiest places on earth. The rain only served to make the mountains around us more beautiful, not less.

It did make me wonder though, what if I took this attitude, this perspective, and applied it to other parts of my life? I find out Jeremy will be gone for another month. It doesn’t matter, we’re still going to heaven and will have and eternity with each other one day. My co-workers are less than pleasant to me. It doesn’t matter, I am still God’s child totally accepted and pleasing to him. All my plans change and there are none to replace them. I have no idea what even the next week holds. It doesn’t matter. I will still end up in heaven one day…

I haven’t had a chance to try it out in real life yet, it’s been less than a day. But when I do have the chance, and if I remember, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Second thought:
Today in my Bible reading I came across the verse Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” It has occurred to me recently that the last part of this verse is active. He tells us to “stand firm” and “do not submit,” –another version says “allow”—“again to a yoke of slavery.” I was amazed, this is a choice. Taking off the yoke is not something that occurs one time when we are saved; it is a daily choice to stand firm and not allow ourselves to be burdened again.

This got me to thinking, what are my yokes I allow myself to be re-burdened with? Perfectionism, having to win no matter what, being the best, legalism/rules… What are yours?

A Glimpse

I’m reading a book by Breannan Manning called A Glimpse of Jesus. It is really good if any of you are looking for new books for your reading lists. In the section I was reading today he wrote, “There is simply no sense in trumpeting the lordship of Jesus if his attitudes, values, and behavior are not recognizable in our lives” (28). He goes on to cite Matt. 20:26-28, Gal. 5:6, and John 13:14-15. Then he writes:

Having the humility and courage to serve is the way to true greatness…Love is service. There is no point in getting into an argument about this question of loving. It is what Christianity is all about—take it or leave it. Christianity is not about ritual and moral living except insofar as these two express the love that causes both of them. We must at least pray for the grace to become love.
The spell of self-hatred cast by moralism/legalism is broken when a Christian is no longer seduced by secular standards of human greatness and makes the glorious breakthrough into the lackey lifestyle of the Master, desiring to serve rather that be served…Servant-hood is not an emotion or mood or feeling; it’s a decision to live the life of Jesus. It has nothing to do with what we feel; it has everything to do with what we do—humble service (28-29, emp his).

So if what Manning says is true, what do we do with it? We’ve all heard numerous sermons telling us we need to be servants. We’ve been drilled with the need to love. To me, these types of sermons have always lead me to be more legalistic. Servant, Check. Love, check. And when I would slip up and fail, not if, when, then I would feel compelled to beat myself up because I had failed again. But these types of attitudes are just what Manning is writing against! I can’t love and be a servant in the way and with the heart I’m supposed to if it is a checklist. Until I get just how much God loves me; until I understand that there is no checklist; until I move myself out of the way till I just see Him; until I push aside all desire for worldly greatness, I will still be one of the Pharisees asking what more I need to do to be first. This is so

These ideas are so hard. How do we, I, get to this place? How do we come to this attitude change, this perspective shift, this new paradigm? How do his “attitudes, values, and behavior” become “recognizable in our lives?” It seems to be, as the title of his books suggests, getting a glimpse of Jesus. Not the Jesus on the felt boards in Sunday school, or the Jesus of your parents, or of the preacher, or of your church, but the one of the Bible. Moving past the different glasses we have seen him through, to just, as Mary, to sit at his feet and get a glimpse of Him.

 

Peace


“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

Peace- eijrhvnh (Greek); Eirene (Trans.);
1. a state of national tranquillity
2. exemption from the rage and havoc of war
3. peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord
4. security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)
5. of the Messiah’s peace – the way that leads to peace (salvation)
6. of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
the blessed state of devout and upright men after death (Crosswalk.com, emp. mine)

If this is the type of peace Jesus left us, why do so many, why do I not posses it? Security, safety, “tranquil state of a soul,” “fearing nothing from God,” content? These often, most times, escape me. I’m one of the least content, most anxious, stressed people I know. I have the white in the hair to prove it!

I try so hard too. I keep schedules and budgets. I make my lists so I won’t forget anything. I make straight A’s, though the more I make the more anxious I am that I’ll get a B. I try to keep everything in its place. I’m super organized, to the umpteenth degree. So why, with all of my control/organization strategies, do I still lack peace?

Maybe that’s the key word-control. I try to plan everything. I mean absolutely EVERYTHING. Even if it’s not going to happen, I try to plan just in case it does. For example, for the first time in my adult life I have no idea where I will even be next month or what will be going on, aside from my on-line class I am taking. I don’t know a thing! Daily I try to plan just in case one of the possible scenarios might take place. “Well if we’re still in Hawaii….” I’ll think. “If I go home (where ever that may be)…. Then….” I muse. I constantly have to stop myself when my scenarios stress me out more and give me more questions than answers.

But giving up control is so hard! I guess right now I don’t have much of a choice, it’s been wrenched from me. But I still try so hard to control the few things I can. I hyper-control the few things I can, or think I can. Money for instance. Today I woke up worrying about money. We spent a lot in Kauai for our Anniversary and Christmas. Never mind that until this year we’ve never been on a real vacation alone. Never mind that we’ll probably never do that again. Never mind that we’ve never gone any where or done anything more than Outback for our Anniversary. I’m still stressed out about the bit of money we spent while we were there. If I continue this way, my worry will rob me of the joy of the trip. I really need to stop.

I’m also trying to hyper-control my last class. “This is my last class,” I think. “I have to get an A, so I can have a 4.0. It will be the end of the world if I don’t get a 4.0!” Daily I feel the need, and try to suppress the need, to log on to the class website and begin to work on it. Did I mention school doesn’t start for another 2 ½ weeks? But the over achiever that I am wants to have begun two days ago. I’m currently restraining my self to at least Jan. 2nd.

“Peace I leave with you…” “Tranquility, safely, security, fearing nothing…” I need those embosomed on my forehead. Hey, maybe that’s why God commanded the Israelites in Deuteronomy to place it on their “door posts,” to talk about it “when they got up…” He even commands them to write them on their foreheads… Maybe it’s because he knew how forgetful we are.

He knew we need constant reminders that He is the one really in control, and you know, he’s done a pretty decent job so far, maybe I should let go and leave the rest up to him too. Do I have a choice? Well I guess like on an air plane, I can stress all I want to, but it’s not going to do me any good or effect where the pilot is taking me, in the end I’ll just give myself more white hairs.