Tuesday, January 13, 2009

All that Glory Entails

This essay that Lewis has written expresses a Biblical definition of glory and how we should react to such understanding. Lewis begins by explaining how man does not truly understand what his desires are. In reality every man has a natural desire for God, however, man tries to satisfy this desire with material objects that only leave us with less understanding and more longing.

According to Lewis, the fact that some men desire Heaven is proof that is exists. However, this desire does not equal understanding of Heaven. Neither does Lewis believe that the descriptions of Heaven found in the Bible are more than imagery. But, he does believe that the “scriptural imagery has authority.” Lewis also points out that the initial confusion that stems from Christianity proves that Christianity has a power beyond man’s own intellect. I think this is a valid point but it is hard to grasp.

Lewis then states the scriptural imagery that he referenced before: being with Christ, being like Christ, obtaining glory, be entertained, and receive a position in the universe. Lewis briefly comments on how being with Christ is the ultimate bliss because God is more than just a person. He says that the other images are a means to express how being with God is more satisfying than being in close proximity with a person of immense power. Lewis then chooses to focus on the promised image of glory for the remainder of the essay.

Lewis defines glory in two parts: having won approval and having luminosity. The glory of Heaven is such that we will receive the approval not of man but of God. We will be praised by God and we shall experience a child-like pleasure in receiving adoration from God. On earth we are unconsciously seeking to belong. We want to be a part of the creation around us that displays God’s glory. However, we are not part of this world. We do not belong. Thus, we long to receive the glory of God’s approval. We also long for the other definition of glory: luminosity. According to Lewis man has a desire to unite with the glory of creation. However, our sin and disobedience prevents us from such a union. Lewis says that we are called to “pass through Nature, beyond her, into that splendor which she fitfully reflects.”

The final portion of this essay is a call to apply this new understanding of man’s future glory in our interaction with others. If we view the people with encounter as they will be in the future, approved by God, then we will slowly begin a progression toward shalom: a life of peace. Lewis challenges his readers to see the future glory of others rather than their own future glory and thus learn to be humble. He challenges them to remember that “Glory Himself” is in your neighbor.

Lewis says “Now, if we are made for heaven, the desire for our proper place will be already in us…” this statement expresses a belief in predestination. The statement clearly shows that man only desires heaven if that is God’s purpose for him.

“Perfect humility dispenses with modesty.” This sentence stuck out to me because most of my life I have been practicing modesty or false humility. For about a year I have been struggling to overcome this practice and when I read this sentence I realized exactly what I was fighting against. Humility is not a matter of overlooking the glory of what is done; it is a matter of referring to God the praise that is addressed to me. When God works through me the result is good, denying that is like denying that God is good. Instead of denying that what has been done is good I should praise God for allowing me to do this good and thus refer other people’s praise of me to God. To be humble is to admit that it is not me accomplishing the good things that I do.

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