Glory. A term that points to the immeasurable worth, weight, importance, goodness and radiance of God. In this post-Christian capitalist age, this term ‘glory’ has been subjected to the distortion of commodification and hedonism.
Insidious and harmful, the prosperity ‘gospel’ which is really anti-gospel twists the meaning of glory into crass distortions more aligned with mammon than with God. Glory, in this bastardized context, is reduced to material possessions, perfect partners, monetary riches and career success, expensive holidays, and more babies. Worldly goods, while nothing wrong in themselves, are made into objects of ultimate good, perhaps not explicitly confessed but likely hidden in the secret heart. This is idolatry that leads to death.
Glory of God is thought to be seen on us when we possess these worldly goods. And this external gloss is seen as a sign of our bold faith, confession of righteousness in Christ, divine revelations and breakthroughs from God. Conversely, absence of such gloss is judged as lack of faith and the like. Prosperity anti-gospel appears to preach grace but promotes pseudo-grace in reality. It is an ideology of narcissistic consumerism, not a spirituality of grace-enlightened, grace-empowered transformation into true glory.
True glory entails our complete formation in and transformation into Christ-likeness. True glory manifests in our presence, demeanour, behaviour and relationship with self, others, world, creation, and God. True glory expresses deep communion with the triune One—into Father, through Son, in Spirit. True glory is manifested in this process of earthly living as part of our training for Heaven. True glory includes suffering and trial, persecution and tribulation in our shared participation in the cross-shaped life of Christ. True glory is evidenced in our glorified resurrected bodies when we see Christ face to face on His return.
And no, Heaven is not merely a place where streets are made of gold, celestial mansions are furnished with diamond chandeliers, or billionaire rulers reign over territories of various sizes by virtue of their earthly accomplishments for God. The three B’s—bucks, bodies, and buildings—in themselves are not signs of divine anointing or truth but more an exhibition of capitalist skill and machination. This looks a lot more like projection of carnal cravings onto the landscape of eternity than it does true glory born of the Spirit. In fact, sole focus on the three B’s and true glory are likely to be antithetical to each other.
True glory is deep intimate union and communion with the Lord: savouring Him, delighting in Him, enjoying Him, loving Him, in an utterly God-entranced and God-besotted way transcending all we can ask or imagine. Out of that union might come all other derivative blessings here on earth or in heaven. In any case, our eyes pay no heed to these derivative blessings but our hearts are eternally thankful in white-hot worship of the Lord Christ upon Whom our gaze rests and anchors. We seek Christ for Christ alone, not merely for what He can give us.
As John Piper puts it beautifully: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Let us pursue God and embody true glory in Him alone.
Pseudo-grace deceives. True grace illuminates and frees. May we all be illuminated and freed in the true glory of Christ—one with Father, united in Spirit: forever entwined, forever dancing, forever singing in ineffable melodies.