‘Tis the season to use the word Glory (or Gloria) a lot.
If you’re anything like me, the usage mostly happens unthinkingly–except for this year. This year I’m writing a new study for the OSFGroups. The study is called Glory, so I guess I’m noticing the word, and how we use it, much more than usual.
The seeds of this study were planted a year before the study was written, during another Online Spiritual Formation Group study on the book of John (The Transforming Word). One day we were discussing Jesus’ temper in the Temple in John 2. In response to a question about why Jesus got so upset that day, I said, “Jesus’ number one, all-consuming passion was not His love for humanity or His followers (or us) in particular, but for the will and glory of His Father.”
This sparked quite the dialogue, beginning with a participant’s frank admission, “I have always struggled with the idea you express. I see the scriptural support for the idea that it is all about God’s glory. But I really struggle with the idea that God’s glory would be more important than His love for us. Is this just my selfish humanity talking?” He wasn’t alone in his reaction.
The entire discussion left me with the question, “Why do God’s glory and God’s love have to be two different things?” I’ve been wondering that ever since. This study is written in an effort to explore that conundrum. Is God’s glory the glittery but scary and even destructive side of God—the side that is so decidedly not human, the “Old Testament God” side? Is God’s love the more earthy, encouraging, empowering, “New Testament God” side, in the image of which we were created? Could it possibly be the other way around? Or is there something else going on entirely? “I was thinking,” said a future participant the other day, “that glory is really kind of murky, even though it seems so shiny!”
There are three OSFGroups forming for this study so far, each of seven people or fewer. In a post-and-comments internet kind of way, we’re beginning to get to know each other. We are seeking to open our hearts and minds–and our Bibles, too–to see what substance, over the next two months, we begin to discover in the glorious love that is God.