This is an opinion piece based on an epiphany I had about the nature and character of Christ. Please read this with the understanding that I, of course, answer a resounding YES! to the question posed by my title. What follows is why I answer yes.
What is glory?
I need to define terms used in this piece, so bear with me as I show you where I am getting my understanding of the terms we are discussing.
Glory is one of those words with many meanings in the scriptures, so determining what it means depends completely upon its use and what surrounds it in the text. For example, in the modern dictionary, the main definition of the word glory means “very great praise, honor, or distinction bestowed by common consent; renown” (Dictionary.com). Interestingly enough, in this dictionary every variation or version of the word glory has to do with renown, praise, or honor. No mention of light or truth is made at all.
If you go look at the Webster’s 1828 edition of the dictionary, glory’s number one definition is “Brightness; luster; splendor” (http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/glory). It isn’t until several definitions later that we see these options appear:
The felicity of heaven prepared for the children of God; celestial bliss.
The divine perfections or excellence.
If you want to understand what glory is all about when reading your scriptures, definitely go with the older dictionary. If you try to understand the King James Version of the Bible (the one we use in the Church) by the modern dictionary, you might find yourself more confused than when you started searching for meaning.
Both Christ and his prophets talk a lot about God’s glory in the scriptures. The Lord is very protective of His own glory. In fact, He describes himself as a jealous God, and here are a couple of examples from the Old Testament.
I the Lord am a jealous God, Ex. 20:5 (Deut. 5:9; 6:15; Mosiah 11:22).
I will be jealous for my holy name, Ezek. 39:25.
The Bible Dictionary defines the word jealous this way:
As used in the scriptures, the word jealous has two meanings: (1) to be fervent and to have sensitive and deep feelings about someone or something, and (2) to be envious of someone or suspicious that another will gain some advantage.
The two examples of being jealous listed above are both examples of the first meaning of the word jealous in the Bible. When it comes to God’s people, God’s own glory/honor/reputation you can definitely say He is jealous of these things. He goes to great lengths to protect them. But why? This is what got me thinking. What is it about glory that makes the Lord so protective of His own glory? Why is glory such a big deal? How does it work?
Giving or Taking?
Think for a minute about how you have seen or heard the term glory used in the scriptures. You read about us giving God glory, us glorifying God, God glorifying us, etc. Does anyone ever take glory upon themselves? I can think of only one example in the whole of the scriptures where someone tried to take glory that didn’t belong to him, and that was Lucifer when he boasted that he would save all of God’s children, but the price of doing so was that God would have to give him all of God’s own glory, meaning God would have to transfer all of His honor, power, and prestige to Lucifer for doing something God could not do on His own. That didn’t work out so well for Lucifer.
This tells me that glory is something given, not taken. In this respect we can learn a lot from the Dictionary.com definition of glory. Remember they defined it as a “distinction bestowed by common consent.” Glory is given. It must be given, because it cannot be taken. So how is it given?
Glory is given through those honoring, sustaining, obeying, worshiping, and loving Him who is worthy of all praise. This is done through duplicating His works, His examples, and by respecting all things that come from Him who is worthy. When we do as Jesus would do, we are glorifying his name and him as a person. We glorify God by trying to emulate His thinking and His behavior. What is the saying, “imitation is the highest form of flattery”?
Why do we glorify God?
Why do we expend so much effort trying to glorify God? To answer this question I ended up thinking about our parents. Some of us have amazing fathers. Others of us have amazing mothers. If you don’t have either, you at least have my condolences. But hopefully you have someone in your life who loves you like no other in all the best possible ways. I will choose mothers for my example here.
How many times have you heard of people talk of their “angel mother”? How many examples have you seen of big, tough, scary men who are completely cowed and humbled when it comes to their mother? There is something about the unconditional love of a mother that is a power that is both very difficult to define, yet completely understood by anyone who has experienced or witnessed it.
When Jesus begins to become real to us, and something more than just a name attached to some great stories in a book of scripture, we begin to feel about him like we feel toward our mothers. In that kind of love there abides a certain kind of tenderness, mixed with adoration and respect, and yes, a little fear for what that person can do to you if you cross them. If you have ever seen a mother come to the defense of her children you understand. If you have ever recognized God coming to the defense of His children, you understand. It would be less painful to just stuff your own face into a hornet’s nest.
The problem here is that a mother’s love is so obvious to us, but we have to discover God’s love for us. We do this little by little, and we usually come to love God more and more as we discover how much He has always loved us. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.” This is an eternal truth that should not be ignored. Why do we love our mother? It is because she first loved us. Love is returned only after it is learned by example. This is where glory begins.
Glory is the embodiment of love. It is earned by service, ministering, caring, and constant attention. Isn’t this why we love God, because He is so good to us? Isn’t this why we love Christ, because of all he has done for each of us?
Agency and glory
Since God forces no one to do anything, because He has granted us our agency to choose for ourselves, even He must rely on our choosing to give Him the glory that is His due. He cannot take it, demand it, or require it of us. We must give it willingly. Interestingly enough the whole universe willingly obeys God’s commands. It is only His children who try to withhold obedience and deference to His will. But that is only while we are in mortality. Once we stand in the eternal halls once again, and our memories are restored, we will all bend the knee and confess that God is deserving and worthy of all acceptation, honor, and majesty that can be given.
What makes Christ worthy?
As I pondered why we are supposed to give Christ so much credit, and glory for what he did to save us from eternal damnation, I wondered about his personality. Did he do what he did in his ministry, in Gethsemane, and on the cross only because our Father commanded him to do it? Is he going to say, after mortality is finished and we are all resurrected, “Okay, I’ve done my part, now it is your turn to worship me and give me my due”? I cringe even trying to write that sentence. My whole soul cries out, No, that is not possible! That is not in Christ’s character to behave like that!
That is when I had my epiphany. We talk about the service, love, and sacrifice Jesus offered us during his earthly ministry. We follow that up with him going up to heaven and is now Lord of Lords. But what about everything he was known for here on earth? He was known for his tender caring of the oppressed, his love of the downtrodden, and his devotion to the lonely and poor. What about now that he is exalted above all the powers of the earth? What is he like now?
It came to me then that Jesus cannot change from what he was in this life. He didn’t abase himself under duress from God, our Father. He didn’t “do his time” just to “get it over with.” Jesus did what he did in mortality because that is his character, his nature. He is naturally, and genuinely that caring and loving. He has loved us all that way since the dawn of history, and will continue to love us and serve us, even though he is King of Kings, for the rest of eternity. This is why we love him. This is why we emulate him and give him honor, praise, and yes, glory. He deserves it.
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