Saturday, December 4, 2010

Glimpses of His Glory by Don Atkin

(Excerpt from Chapter 5, “A Desperate World in the Hands of A New Creation” –

That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.[i]

Those who tend to see the glass half empty might have entitled this chapter: “Spots and Wrinkles.”  But all in the church world is not gloom and doom.  There is a “baby” in the bathwater.  His name shall be called “Immanuel—God with us.”[ii]

Glimpses of His glory witness to His presence in some of what many would categorically label “Ichabod.”   We could offer the same critique of those who rail against traditions and institutional Christianity in a spirit other than Christ.  You may not like my house, but you are commanded to love me!  Love suffers long and is kind.[iii]  Eugene H. Peterson wrote:

Whatever I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

  • Love never gives up.
  • Love cares more for others than for self.
  • Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
  • Love doesn’t strut,
  • Doesn’t have a swelled head,
  • Doesn’t force itself on others,
  • Isn’t always “me first,”
  • Doesn’t fly off the handle,
  • Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
  • Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
  • Takes no pleasure in the flowering of truth,
  • Puts up with anything,
  • Trusts God always,
  • Always looks for the best,
  • Never looks back,
  • But keeps going to the end.
  • Love never dies.[iv]

I see glimpses of God’s glory in the expressed love of the brothers and sisters, in both traditional and emerging church traditions.  Because the eye is the lamp of the body, I catch glimpses of His glory in what looks back at me.  Somehow, in the mystery of the spirit realm, divine connections are sparked when love looks at love and finds love looking back!

We can all use some cardiac chiropractics (interpretation being: “heart adjustments”), especially if we hope to be among those who sit down to dinner together with Jesus and listen to Him speaking through one another.

I see glimpses of God’s glory when I meet someone who has been genuinely converted through the ministry of both those who fit into my particular paradigm and those who don’t. 

Then, there are those who give of their time and resources to bless the less fortunate. If God can work through non-Christian civil authority,[v] can He not also work through the generosity of good-hearted people? 

I am so thankful for eyes that see and ears that hear, for a heart that loves and forgives because it is loved and forgiven.  There is little being done according to the Ishmaels in the house that the Ishmael in me hasn’t tried.  I will say that Father seems to let others get away with things about which He confronts or confounds me.  He is all knowing, and His grace is so comprehensive that He matches life assignments with the measure/capacity He provides for each person.

To me, it is quite obvious that God blesses measure while He calls for and provides fullness.  If we cannot see His glory in the measure we will not see His glory in the fullness.  The same log in our own eyes that prevents us from seeing His glory in others will continue to blind us to His glory in His fullness. 

God provides the fullness and the glory.  We must surrender our logs of religious prejudice through repentance if we hope to clearly see.  Distorted vision results in dysfunctional spiritual paralysis and unfruitful lives.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment.  That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.  It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.  Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt?  It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part.  Wipe that ugly sneer off your face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”[vi]

Wow!  Eugene Peterson’s (The Message Bible) version seems harsh!  But then, I go back to read the red letters—the words of Jesus—in any other version, and He did not pull any punches either!  Let’s face it.  We ALL need heaping portions of God’s grace.  Allow me a little literary liberty:  “Blessed are the graceful, for they shall receive grace.” 

For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.[vii]

We can exercise ourselves to see the glory of God in the context of others’ flesh.  By so doing, we can be more hopeful that His glory may shine through our abundance of flesh.  It is painful to watch those whom we love as they go through very difficult circumstances.  It is especially true when it is obvious that they are under the Father’s disciplining hand because of their narrow perspectives of grace and their undying allegiance to a particular religious concept or dogma.

Jesus came that we might have life.[viii]  He is our life.  He is the Light in us that makes us the light of the world.[ix]  Paul testified,

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.[x]

We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.[xi]

I’m looking for the glory in my brother, the light in his eyes.  Because of grace I can look past any specks and smudges, confident that God will finish what He has begun,[xii] and continue to take my brother from glory to glory until he looks just like Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith.[xiii]

If I reject him, I understand that I am rejecting Jesus.  We may not agree with one another on every jot and tittle.  But, we can agree in Jesus. 

The things of this earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.[xiv]

Oh, the glory of Your presence
We, Your temple, give You reverence
So arise to Your rest
And be blessed by our praise
As we glory in Your embrace
As Your presence now fills this place
Oh, the glory of Your presence
We, Your temple, give You reverence
So arise to Your rest

And be blessed by our praise

As we glory in Your embrace
As Your presence now fills this place
So arise to Your rest
And be blessed by our praise
As we glory in Your embrace
As Your presence now fills this place[xv}

Heaven stands at attention when two or more symphonize in the Spirit concerning anything.[xvi]  This is the beginning place for anything and everything that has to do with the kingdom. This is the heartbeat of the new creation.

 [i] Ephesians 5:27
 [ii] Matthew 1:23
 [iii] 1 Corinthians 13:4a TM
 [iv] 1 Corinthians 13:4b-8a TM
 [v] Romans 13:1
 [vi] Matthew 7:1-5 TM
 [vii] Matthew 7:2
 [viii] John 10:10
 [ix] John 1:9; Matthew 5:14
[x] Galatians 2:20-21
[xi] 2 Corinthians 3:18
[xii] Philippians 1:6
[xiii] Hebrews 12:2
[xiv] From the song, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”
[xv] Song by Steve Fry
[xvi] Matthew 18:19

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