On December 22, 2011

The Glory of God

This is my final post for this year. Thanks for all the conversation in 2011, I look forward to more in 2012 (at least until the world ends).

This picture is one of the graffiti prophet Banksy’s newest. It’s called “Shop till you drop” and they have no idea how he did it. But I sure am glad he did.

So earlier today I went to the mall with our two kids, Eden and Samuel, to do some last minute Christmas shopping. Three days before Christmas, and I was there without Leslie and two kids under the age of 4. We were a train wreck. It’s in moments like this that you realize just how much you need your spouse.

I forgot to bring diapers, bibs, water cups, strollers, basically every single thing that human children need, I forgot. It got so bad that at one point, we were at lunch at the mall Pizza place, and I overheard the woman sitting at the table next to us say, “And that’s why I will never have children.”

I’m not kidding.

There are so many levels of irony about the way we celebrate the Christmas story. God gives up everything to be among us, and we have made greed synonymous with celebrating his sacrifice. God comes in subtle unassuming ways, and we have all but turned Christmas into one big Macy’s day parade.

Now I’m all for Christmas parades and lights and celebrations, and I actually think that Christmas can help form the people of God in ways that help us learn how, and what, to celebrate. But it is possible in the middle of all the glitter to lose sight of exactly what Christmas reveals about God.

The Gospel of John really doesn’t have a Christmas story, it just has a Christmas verse. But what John loses in quantity, he makes up with quality. He opens up his gospel by telling us that “The Word became Flesh, and made His dwelling among us. We have seen the glory of the one and only, sent from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Now John is tapping into a couple of different stories here, but the primary one that John has in mind is the story of the Temple. When God first came to live amount his people. his glory was so dense, that the priests who were in the temple had to evacuate it. His Glory had arrived on earth, but you couldn’t withstand it for long.

And for hundreds of years, that’s the primary way that people thought about the glory of God. It was majestic and wonderful, but it could eat your face off.

And then John met Jesus.

He saw Jesus interact and love children (sorry lady at the pizza restaurant), love on women caught in adultery, blind people, and lepers. He saw Jesus give the world a new way of being human and a new way of interacting with God.

And when John was struggling to find a word to describe that, he reached back into the Jewish story of God and his people and realized that what he was really seeing was the glory of God.

Charles Spurgeon once said it this way, “His glory was that he laid aside His glory, and the glory of the church is when she lays aside her respactablilty and her dignity, and counts it to be her glory to gather together the outcasts.”

In other words, Jesus introduced to a whole new way to talk about the character of God. And a whole new way to put him on display.

So as we go into this season for one more year, as we dream about the gifts we will be able to give, and stress about the ones we won’t. As we hustle and stress on a treadmill that just seems to get faster, remember what this season is really trying to do. It’s calling us to see and treat the ones around us better, despite how they look or what resources they bring to the table. Because that’s the way Jesus did.

Because that’s the glory of God.

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  • http://twitter.com/pcunningham3 Philip Cunningham

    I wonder if Banksy meant to evoke feelings of 9/11 with that picture.  Because that’s what I thought it was when I first clicked over here:  a picture of someone jumping out of the burning World Trade Center.