Now that you know what the OSFGroups will be doing next, I really kind of want to tell you about the study we just finished. If you’ve been reading along, you knew that we were going to talk about that kind of nebulous concept, glory, for about two months. Well, we just read the last passage for that study on Friday, and are taking this week to make any final observations or remarks before I close down the groups and we all take a break before the next focus.
After two months, we’ve studied a lot of different facets to glory (which I have, sometimes, been comparing to a diamond–it seems appropriate somehow), and at the end of last week, a couple of participants in one of the groups were mulling and wondering over the idea of God giving humans glory and humans giving it back to God–the amazing kind of circular and integral flow that we had recently observed in some of the passages we were reading. The words love and glory, both, were also “flowing” fairly freely, and then I jumped in and said,
Here’s what I’m wondering:
Why are we all still talking about God’s glory and God’s love as two different things? If someone or something’s “glory” is basically that person or thing’s essence, and “God IS love,” then how would God’s love and God’s glory not be exactly the same thing?
One of the very faithful and thoughtful participants chimed in a few days later. “Glory is a lot of things,” he said,
Much more than I ever really gave thought to. Jenn, you hypothesized that perhaps God’s love and glory were the same thing. And in some ways I agree with you.
Yet in other ways not so much. There remains for me this intangible, other dimensional aspect of God’s glory that elicits reverential awe! This God of mine is powerful, creator of all, and the holiness of The Great I Am is something I’m uncomfortable being too comfortable around.
Creation is here because of Him and gives Glory to him…if for no other reason than our existence proves the attributes we laud on Him…deservedly so.
Not going to lie. I loved his line about being uncomfortable being too comfortable around the great and holy God. But I really do believe that God’s love and God’s glory are the same thing–maybe a little bit passionately. So I wrote this long reply which turned basically into sort of a blogpost…which is why now you’re reading it here, too, although it may make less sense to you if you haven’t been following along on our journey of discovery about glory.
I agree that there’s an aspect of God that is very “other” (separate/holy) from us, and that creation exists because of Him; I just don’t see that as necessarily something other than God’s love.
“God is love” is a simple statement, but it’s also pretty huge. Christian theology of many different strains from the very earliest times has said that it is because God is love that the creation was made: we and everything around us, beyond what we can comprehend, were created as an act of love. And while I agree that God’s love is what enables us to approach Him (because He first approached us in love, through Jesus most fully–another 1 John passage: “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19)), I also think that His love is something we humans are crazy to imagine we can ever wrap our minds around–even when we end up actually living Revelation 21!
If it’s really true that God is, at His very essence, love, then all these “acts of glory” we’ve seen from the beginning of this study (from becoming completely incensed at His people “cheating on Him” with a metal baby bovine, to coming around the curtain to talk to a young boy, to somehow mysteriously leaving His people entirely, to overwhelming a prophet to the point that he would go out and warn the people, to becoming one of us simply so that we could slaughter Him in one of the most brutal ways possible…and in that way reconcile us to Himself–ALL of it) is an expression of Himself–which is love.
I find it genuinely intriguing that on one end of “the spectrum” (I’m not sure what spectrum I’m talking about, but hopefully this’ll make sense anyway!), are people who are uncomfortable with the idea of “the wrath of God” (something I have been wanting to blog about for about 4 years and keep putting off!) and emphasize “the love of God.” And on the other end of that same spectrum, whatever it is, are people who are uncomfortable (for probably many various reasons, although the concept about God’s holiness and otherness is probably in there for a lot of us) with the idea of God being too permissive, and so try to downplay the love of God, or have it accompanied by some other attribute.
But at the end of the day, maybe it isn’t a spectrum at all, and really all of us are just basically thrown by the “kind” of Love that God really is, because it/He is other, and near, and holy, and humble, and incomprehensible, and accessible; and all that stuff about Him–all those attributes–that we try to spread out across a spectrum because that’s how they work (but not always very well) among us is Love: the God who is Love.
Anyway. 🙂 That’s how it seems to me. And I guess that’s why I think that, at least in God’s case, Glory and Love are the same thing.
How about you? What do you think?