“Let me show you how great I am…”
“I will demonstrate how beautiful my voice is and set a record for digital downloads.”
“I will perform a perfect exhibition of jumping on a wooden beam, and get a gold medal.”
“I will paint in such a way that people will pay thousands for my work.”
“I will act as no one has ever acted on film, and receive a shiny statue.”
“I will contribute humanitarian efforts, and win a prize.”
“I will parade my beauty, and my body in front of millions and go viral on the internet.”
“I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High’” (Isa. 14:14).
That last quote was spoken by the devil.
At any rate, this is what we do for glory, or at least what we call glory. Actually, I think we care far less about real glory than we do for celebrity status. Look at how we embody it—in trophies, and bragging rights. But if you’re anything like me, you treat every scrap of it like a Charms pop. Remember those big, flat-slabbed, neon-colored suckers, wrapped in crinkle paper? I would slurp on one, a little at a time, then re-wrap it and put it away for later. After a couple days, the thing would thin down to a knife edge, then disappear into fragments as I finally chomped on it. This is glory for a lot of us. We know better than to get excited over it in public. That isn’t good decorum. You’re supposed to enjoy it in private, so you can maintain the appearance of humility in front of everyone else.
But then comes the moment when the candy goodness is all gone, and there’s nothing left but the memory of it. In the words of General George S. Patton Jr., who longed for battlefield renown, “All glory is fleeting.” Then why do we pursue it? My best guess is that there’s some serious dopamine involved in being seen and lauded by others. We like glory, because it is exciting to be known, talked about, to grow your brand. The more you get, the more you want, and the less you can live without it.
We tend to use it like a drug.
But once again, listen to the heavenly consensus about Jesus:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12).
I shouldn’t have to remind you that this adulation is not happening at the Academy Awards, or on American Idol. It occurs in heaven itself, the place of highest acclaim.
Millions of angels there agree that Jesus is worthy of glory, a glory that has lasted for untold millennia, and will endure for eternity. Where others have said, “I will dance,” I will write,” “I will compete,” “I will lead,” He said, “I will die as a sacrifice for the souls of men, according to the will of God.”
Look at the result of His worldwide prestige, and the celebration of His exalted name. There is no childish self-savoring here, no lollipops, nor hugging of trophies, nor gushing acceptance speeches. Carefully note where the glory train stops:
“God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).