What’s the best thing in the world? Is it a concert venue jam packed with a massive crowd moving in synchronization to your favorite band? Is it a sublime moment on the summit of a mountain in the Rockies? Is it the spark of romance on a first date?
For the Christian, the answer is the best thing in the world is better than all of these things, it is the experience of God’s glory. A taste of the weight and majesty of the presence of God surpass all other experiences in life. For the Christian the glory of God is the best thing.
What do we mean when we talk about the glory of God?
John Calvin said that the glory of God is when we know what He is.
In the Old Testament we find the word kavod and translate it glory. It means weight or substance. God is weighty, He is substantial.
In the New Testament, the Greek word which we translate glory is doxa. The word refers to the visibility or illumination of something.
Here is a working definition of the glory of God: it is the radiance of the sheer weight and substance of God’s presence.
David looked into the sky and saw the glory of God in the brilliance above him.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
To experience the glory of God is like basking in the light of the sun or standing in awe at the feet of a majestic mountain. For the Christian, this is the best thing.
For hundreds of years, children have been taught about God’s glory through the Westminster Catechism:
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
According to Jesus in John 15:8, you and I have the privileged opportunity of participating in the glory of God.
This knowledge should capture our attention.
For the follower of Christ – By this my father is glorified. This is what I live for. This is the chief end of my life. This is my father’s glory: this is the best thing I can do. This is the most desirable and thrilling thing I can imagine being apart of. What are the details? How do I get in on that?
For the seeker of truth, this should capture your attention. Because it is an offer of something you cannot find anywhere else in the world. The world will tell you that the chief end of man is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To find your purpose, you must look inside yourself. Maybe some of you have had enough of looking inside yourself. Maybe some of you would like something with more substance, more light than you find inside.
Maybe you have experienced what Albert Camus described when he wrote that “beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.” Perhaps you are one of those Herman Hesse described, who “ask too much . . . have a dimension to many for this world.” You “long for air to breathe outside the air of this world, an eternity at the back of time.”
The words of Jesus in John 15 are a declaration that Jesus can show you that eternity at the back of time.
Participating in the weight and the reality of God’s presence
We do this by bearing much fruit.
Jesus said something similar, recorded in Matthew 5
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
The glory of God is made visible in some real sense, when His people bear fruit in this world.
When you see a vine bursting with fat clumps of juicy, sweet grapes – there is a glory in it. When you see a Christian whose life is filled with faith and works of love – there is a glory in it.
You can see an example of that glory in the life of Corrie Ten Boom, a holocaust survivor who responded to the horrific cruelty of the Nazis by traveling throughout post-war Germany to bring a message of grace and forgiveness. After giving a message to a crowd in Munich, Corrie came face to face with one of her former guards at Ravensbruck camp. The active of forgiveness she describes in that moment was an opening through which the glory of God was made visible in our world. The fruit of forgiveness revealed the weight and substance of something far greater than anything else in this world.
Notice what it does not say in this verse. It does not say this is to your glory.
It doesn’t say this is to your glory when you bear much fruit. Branches take no credit for the fruit. The glory goes to the vinedresser.
There is no room for proud boasting in the vine. In the vine there is the opposite isn’t there?
If there is any glory in my life it comes from the fact that someone as arrogant and self-absorbed as I am can be used to do good in this world. It is in the fact that God can take a broken and flawed thing like myself and make a life of meaning and love in this world. This is good news!
When we bear much fruit, the glory of God is made visible. So is the authenticity of our faith.
That you bear much fruit, and prove to be my disciples.
There are many who claim the name of Christ who do not bear fruit for God’s glory. Maybe you know someone whose life or social media feed seem more like a noisy, clanging gong than the sprouting of beautiful fruit.
Can I encourage you about that? You’re not the first one to find offense at that kind of “Christian”. Jesus himself predicted and found fault with such people. I encourage you to judge the Christian by Christ, not the other way around.
Christian, is your life fruitful? Do you have the fruit of faith and love to prove your discipleship? If not, you may need to rethink your claim to Christ.
What exactly is the fruit that glorifies God and proves our faith?
There is strong indication that Jesus was speaking of one thing in particular. I find that earlier in John.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
The fruit that Jesus is looking for, the kind that shows the world true discipleship, is love.
This week you and I have the opportunity to reveal the great and glorious reality of God to our world through acts of love. May this privilege drive us to acts of love and service this week!
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown