23 May 2015

Real Glory

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.  --1 Corinthians 4:5

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality . . .  --Romans 2:6-7

I think of Sarah Smith in The Great Divorce, the shining, luminous, utterly normal, glorified human being who lived a mundane life, in Christ, built on a million small acts of love and service in this life. And reaped what she sowed in the next.

What a day it will be. A day when true honor will be unveiled.

We hear that Eastern Asia is an 'honor/shame' culture. But more deeply the entire human race is an honor/shame race, some cultures making it more explicit than others. Tonight when the Rockets play the Warriors, we will see the quest for honor, for glory, here in the West, and the terrified fleeing from shame. It's one reason the rest of us watch the NBA playoffs, to get vicarious glory through our team's triumph.

And each of us senses varying degrees of shame and honor as we move through any given day. Maybe you don't notice it much because it's like a fish in water. Felt levels of honor and shame are what we are constantly immersed in. Our entire fallen existence is one of perpetually moving away from shame and moving toward glory.

What a day that will be. An unending day.

When real significance is unveiled. When a billion unheard of Christians who never made any real money and never wrote a book and never spoke into a microphone are introduced by the Lord Jesus to the universe. What will it be like?

That strange day when every name of every famous unregenerate man is suddenly difficult to remember, slipping through the fingers of our memory, suddenly lost to oblivion. Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and Lebron James all have a chance at true glory. The window is still open. But if they persist on their current trajectories, they are actually becoming smaller and smaller, more and more deeply inconsequential with each passing day. This frothy, unsatisfying glory they've found, and which the rest of us are after, and which is so difficult to get, can be left behind for the real thing, which is free for anyone. All it requires is dying. Committing self-glory suicide. Liquidating the accounts of self-honor we're amassing and re-investing in Mark 10:43-45. Solid, substantial, permanent, invincible greatness. Not this ridiculous preening and parading, so transient, so ephemeral. Here for a moment, then gone forever.

What a day. When God brings to full blossom the seeds of resplendence planted and cultivated in this life in quietly faithful men and women who laid down their arms against God and gave up. Our jaws will drop.

What if God's assessment of things, which we always knew to be true, in our heart of hearts, will rinse this world clean once and for all? What if the glorious men and women of this world, the end of which is right around the corner, are not the glorious men and women of the next world, the end of which will never come?

I find myself reminded, even rebuked.

04 May 2015

What Is the End Result of a Christian's Sins?

God often blesses us when we are not aware of it. God lets you fall into a sin perhaps, and that drives you to the throne of grace, with outcries for help, as the apostle's word is in Heb 4:16, as a man undone utterly and forever, if God pity you not.
This prayer, though in itself a less good than thy sin was evil, yet to you is turned a far greater blessing than your sin has evil in it (as to you).

Such is his goodness. Your sin shall be pardoned, and though it be a loss in itself, yet to you, having so great a consequent and effect of it, you come off a gainer. God has blessed you with a further increase in the heavenlies, and it shall never be taken from you.
--Thomas Goodwin, preaching on Ephesians 1:3, in Works, 1:63