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If you grew up in church world, you learned that one of the most important things was God’s glory. We were very clearly supposed to give God the glory, like little human spotlights always showing how awesome God is.
Over time, I learned what kind of things would do this. There was a clear category: religious things.
I could give God the glory by singing loudly and with feeling during worship. Speaking boldly about God and God’s will in public was another way I could shine that light. I brought God glory when I abstained from bad behavior. Even more, I could multiply God’s glory by commenting about the questionable behavior I was abstaining from, so the others would knew I was taking a stand for God.
Witnessing, apologetics, serving at church, and being a very good boy–these were the kinds of things that give God glory.
If it was true that my life’s purpose was to bring God glory than it seemed to me that my life’s purpose was really just to be as good and religious as I could be.
Well, our life’s purpose and God’s glory are tied together, but not in the way that I thought.
Glory is a Side Effect
This post is continuing an on-going series about the 210 Life. This is a perspective on intentional spiritual living that grows out of Ephesians 2:10. Here’s a summary.
We’ve already covered the starting point, Position 1: You were created by God, a hand-made piece of art, with a good and beautiful purpose.
Why would having and discovering this purpose matter?
That takes us to Position 2. Living into your good and beautiful purpose brings you spiritual vitality which naturally reflects the Artist’s glory.
God is an artist, and God created you with an artist’s eye. When an artist creates art, that art contains something of the artist: a bit of their perspective on the world, something of their character, and very often, some message the artist wants to communicate. So it is with you.
The difference is that you are not an immobile, unthinking sculpture or dead words on a page. Some artists work in the medium or paint or music. The medium God chose is a living, breathing people. You have a body and a mind. You have free will. You have the ability to ignore or defy the character of the Artist within you. You also have the ability to discover and live into the Artist’s purpose for you.
Knowing your purpose connects you deeply with the Artist who made you. It also connects you with your unique way of expressing the Artist’s heart in the world. This touches on your relationship with God and your identity. It touches on your life’s direction.
When these things begin to come together, you begin to experience spiritual vitality. This is the quality of a life marked by a strong sense of identity, value and purpose that comes from an engaged and intimate relationship with the Artist. When you begin to experience this, life clicks.
When You’re Living Your Purpose, Glory Just Happens
So, how then do we give God the glory?
Without trying, without doing anything particularly religious, your life gives glory to God. It’s not in the words of songs you sing or in the frequency of your witnessing. In fact, it’s not something that happens in you at all.
In Matthew 5:16, Jesus counseled his followers with these words: “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
“In the same way, let your light shine,” Jesus said. So how does a candle or lantern shine?
A candle or a lantern can’t help but shine. When the candle is lit, it’s serving its purpose. It’s not setting out to shine through some enormous effort. It’s simply being what it was made to be. When this happens, other people see the light. The light naturally brightens their room, illuminates their way, helps them see. Quite naturally this causes the people helped by the light to be thankful to the one who made the candle and placed it on their path. This is how a candle gives its maker glory. The candle doesn’t give the glory; the people who benefit from the candle give the glory.
Glory is a secondary result, a side effect. When a painting is beautiful, it doesn’t need a banner on it proclaiming how great the painter is. Those who are moved by the art quite naturally give glory to the artist. The art doesn’t give the glory. The people the art impacts give glory.
“Your purpose is to live in such a good & beautiful way that people give God glory.”
Here’s what this means: Your life’s purpose is not to give God glory. Your life’s purpose is to live in such a good and beautiful way that the people you serve give God glory.
Jesus says in John 15:8. ”My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.” Here Jesus was using the metaphor of a vine. Do vines set out to bear fruit in order to bring glory to the farmer? No. Vines bear fruit because they are living out their nature, doing what they were made to do.
Remember this. You give God glory when you are living out who God made you to be. The opposite is true. When you are living a lie, when you are trying to be something that isn’t who God made you to be, when you are pursuing glory for its own end, none of these things bring glory to God.
The next post in this series will begin looking at how we can discover our own good and beautiful purpose.
Question for you: If you grew up in the church, what did you learn about bringing glory to God? How has that impacted your life?