Being A God-Glorifying People
The mission of the church of Jesus Christ is to bring Him glory in everything we do.
But what is glory, anyway?
The Hebrew word translated "glory" is kabod, which meant heaviness, as in the weight of someone’s words. When we talk about the kabod of God, we're talking about His greatness. In the New Testament, the word translated "glory" is doxa, which in ancient Greek meant reputation or honor. When it was used in the New Testament, doxa took on a nuance meaning the glory or honor of a person.
In 2 Thessalonians, Paul says, "We constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him…"
Paul’s hope was that the name of Jesus Christ would be glorified in the Thessalonian church. But where did he get this idea?
To answer this question we'll look at the history of God's first chosen people.
In the book of Genesis, God called Abraham to leave his homeland and go to Canaan to start a new nation - and not just any nation. This would be a nation whose primary purpose was glorifying God. Even the first offspring of Abraham came about in a way that brought God glory.
Isaac’s descendants lived in slavery in Egypt. God sent Moses to tell Pharaoh to let His people go. Eventually, after enduring plagues, Pharaoh released the Israelites - and then changed his mind. In response, the Lord parted the Red Sea for His people to cross, and when Pharaoh’s army pursued, they drowned - and God's glory was demonstrated.
As Israel journeyed through the wilderness, they developed a reputation as a people not to be messed with. When they came to the Promised Land, God told them to march around the city of Jericho for six days blowing trumpets, and on the seventh day, the walls of Jericho came tumbling down - again, displaying God's glory.
When a Philistine giant mocked the people of Israel and blasphemed God, a shepherd boy named David defended God’s glory and slew the Philistine. This shepherd would later become king of Israel, and his son would be given the task of building God’s temple. The glory of God filled this temple and God’s people worshiped Him.
But in spite of God’s glorious work, His people defied Him. God used prophets to remind Israel that they existed to live for His glory. They continued to rebel, and they ended up in exile in Babylon. But God promised them that someday they would worship Him in Jerusalem, and all the nations would hear of the amazing things He had done (Jeremiah 33:7-9).
Then, God put into motion the second part of His plan: He would bring Himself glory through His Son.
Jesus Christ came to Earth as a baby and brought glory to the Father by fulfilling the will of God. In His final priestly prayer, Jesus knew that He would soon die on a Roman cross for the sins of the world. Through His death, the door would be opened for mankind to have a relationship with God. This act of obedience would bring glory to the Father.
Israel missed the mark of bringing God glory, but Jesus brought glory to the Father through perfectly completing the work He was sent to do. And because of His obedience, He opened the door for another group of people to bring Him glory: the church.
Jesus says in verses 9 and 10, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given Me, for they are Yours. All I have is Yours, and all You have is Mine. And glory has come to Me through them.”
The purpose of the church is to bring glory to the name of God. We bring Jesus glory by being beacons of righteousness in the sinful darkness. Paul prayed that God would count them worthy of His calling. His desire was that God would empower the church to do the good works He had called them to do - to be agents of grace and hope, sharing the “Good News” of the gospel in a fallen world.
The mission of God’s church hasn’t changed today. We are called to live such good lives around our classmates, coworkers, and neighbors that though they say, “Christianity is a hoax; it does more harm than good," they might see the power of God in our lives. Then they'll say, “Maybe I was wrong about this Jesus person!” That’s why Paul says, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Are you living for God’s glory in everything you do - or is it about your glory? Maybe you’re finding glory in your wealth. Maybe it’s your natural abilities, or the praise of others. Sadly, these things can be taken away at any moment. Instead, live to make the name of Jesus famous - because He will never let you down!
Pastor Toby Gallego
Riviera Baptist Church