Sharing In The Glory
A few weeks ago, my state’s beloved college team played in a rather important game. The Ohio State Buckeyes decisively spanked a team from the Pacific Northwest (who shall remain nameless—ok, they won’t, it was the Oregon Ducks…sorry to open old wounds, Pac-12 fans). They become the inaugural National Champions of the new College Football Playoff.
I watched a decent amount of the game (for me that is…I’m a transplant to Ohio, so I’m not held to the diehard standards of the natives). I was amazed at the sea of red that colored the Arlington, Texas stadium.
These faithful fans spent hundreds and even thousands of dollars to be there to share in the glory. And it paid off. The Buckeyes got the glory, and everyone who called themselves a fan of OSU football was able to share in that glory. Even guys like me who went to bed before the game was over.
There’s a lesson here.
Shared Glory & Gathered Worship
I’ve been thinking about the phrase “sharing in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,” as 2 Thessalonians 2:14 (NIV) says it. Romans 8 also talks about sharing in his glory. This concept goes much deeper than what we can discuss here. But I think the Buckeyes helped me realize one aspect of sharing in the glory of Jesus Christ when it comes to our gathered worship.
When we celebrate Jesus Christ—his life, death, resurrection, ascension and coming return—we are, in a very simple way, sharing in his glory.
When OSU won, I imagine there were a few face-painted megalomaniacs who believed that their “fanship” of the Buckeyes somehow helped to bring about the national championship.
But they didn’t.
Urban Meyer and his team (players, assistant coaches, coordinators, trainers, et. al) won the game.
Likewise, only the drastically misguided among us believe that any of the glory of Christ belongs to us because we’ve somehow earned it. Christ shared it with us.
His defeat over death is our defeat over death.
His being raised to new life is us being raised to new life.
Him seated at the right hand of the Father is us being seated with him.(See Eph. 2:6 and Col. 3:1—it’s crazy, mind-blowing stuff if you think about it…)
His perfection is our perfection.
His glory is our glory.
Not because we earned it, but because he shared it. He invited us in to experience his glory.
Can I be honest? My sharing in the glory of the Buckeyes wasn’t very…glorious. I woke up the next day and did 90 other things before checking to see if they had won. “Oh, that’s good,” I thought, and I went about my day. (I know, I’m a disgrace to my state.)
But there were those who shared in the glory far more than I did. For starters, they watched the whole game, regardless of the late night. Then there were those who hosted parties at their house to celebrate with friends. Then there were those who got on a plane, or drove 20-some hours to Arlington, Texas to share in the glory live.
And I have to imagine, the closer a person got to the action on the field (whether by physical proximity or by relationship), the greater the glory they got share. They didn’t just say, “Oh that’s nice,” like I did. They celebrated with every scarlet and gray fiber of their being, applauding and cheering for their victorious team.
And even the most diehard fan in the stands couldn’t share in the glory like Ezekiel Elliott’s parents when their running back son was named MVP. Their applause for this victory was born out of something far deeper than loyalty to a university.
It’s that way for us. The more radically we get to know Jesus, the more his glory affects our lives. And when we come together to celebrate in gathered worship of our King, those who know him best should rightly be celebrating him the most. Their applause is born out of something deeper than a salvation prayer or an affiliation to the Kingdom.
There are times when my faith in Christ resembles my lukewarm following of the Buckeyes. Because of that, I respond with lukewarm worship and experienced little of His glory.
It’s almost as if Jesus made this same point:
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.
You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Extravagant and expressive worship comes out of a deep connection and experience with Christ. Those who have been forgiven much, celebrate much.
And Jesus is more than happy to share his glory with them.
For additional discussion: Can this idea of “sharing in the glory” be a starting point for more expressive worship in your church?