From glory to Glory
ESPN’s tribute at the passing of network anchor Stuart Scott tugged at the emotional strings that bind us together. In accepting an ESPY Jimmy V perseverance award last year, Stuart Scott told the audience: “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” Rich Eisen, Hanna Storm, and others at ESPN, in tearful tribute spoke of their fellow worker with words of praise. They spoke of Stuart Scott’s work ethic, playful personality, devotion to his children and zest for life. They spoke of him in a way that draws us to examine Stuart Scott more, to inquire how, why and in what manner he lived. Eulogies are like that. In death, friends or loved ones are held in esteem for their qualities, and their character. The difference they’ve made in the world is measured simply by being who they were. They change us.
Some consider the concept of glory a purely transcendent one. Many seem to think of the glory of God as some dazzling radiance, or as some aura beyond our understanding. To add to the misunderstanding, popular worship songs often get glory theology wrong. Its origins are otherworldly, but glory, I would suggest, is a thing of which we are all well acquainted. Glory, to borrow from Stuart Scott, is about how you live, why you live and in what manner you live. The media people at ESPN clearly knew and testified of his glory. Perhaps the reason we don’t understand glory as well as we should is because the nature of glory is that it can only be properly appreciated in someone else. To glory in ourselves is to descend into conceit. Because of this, the preeminence of Christ is critical to the working of sanctification, which is the change experienced by followers of Christ into a reflection of His glory.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB)
Apart from some aura or radiance, Henry Drummond, a Scottish evangelist from the 19th century, expressed the nature of glory in this way.
What is the “glory” of the Lord, and how can mortal man reflect it, and how can that act as an “impressed force” in moulding [sic] him to a nobler form? The word “glory” -the word which has to bear the weight of holding those “impressed forces”- is a stranger in current speech, and our first duty is to seek out its equivalent in working English. It suggests at first a radiance of some kind, something dazzling or glittering, some halo such as the old masters love to paint round the heads of their Ecce Homos. But that is paint, mere matter, the visible symbol of some unseen thing. What is that unseen thing? It is that of all unseen things the most radiant, the most beautiful, the most Divine, and that is Character. On earth, in Heaven, there is nothing so great, so glorious as this. The word has many meanings; in ethics it can have but one. Glory is character, and nothing less, and it can be nothing more. The earth is “full of the glory of the Lord,” because it is full of His character. The “Beauty of the Lord” is character. “The effulgence of His Glory” is character. “The Glory of the Only Begotten” is character, the character which is “fulness of grace and truth”. And when God told His people His name He simply gave them His character, His character which was Himself…” – Henry Drummond, “The Formula of Sanctification“
God is deserving of glory because His character is perfection itself. His glory befits His holiness. The atheist or agnostic has only reason and evidence to shoulder the burden of character. But for Godly followers, virtue is based upon the perfection of God’s character. Evidence of the LORD’s character is everywhere. As great a mark as Stuart Scott left by his character, Christ left a greater impression upon the whole world through those who mimic the character of Him called Saviour. As we inquire into the beauty of true character, as we seek virtue, as our understanding of God’s character deepens, in an unseen yet tangible way, we change from glory to Glory. Rich Eisen’s closing words said of Stuart Scott, “Wherever you are…” Beholding God’s Glory, knowing His character, our understanding changes from perceiving those who’ve passed on as being “who knows where” to “we know where”.