2nd Corinthians 4:3-6 (NIV)
3 And even if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
“Glory to man in the highest! For man is the master of things.” Wrote Algernon Swineburne, who died 109 years ago in 1909 of ill health.
“Glory to man.” Indeed!?
I don’t know the context of that quote, but I wonder how anyone can make such a statement in the face of their mortality. Let alone, when people are slaves to things rather than master of them.
People spend their time chasing things, experiences, feathers in their caps, a man or woman, a house, a car or the latest I-phone and the like.
When the acquisition of “things” is paramount, people end up worshipping the “things”.
To whom belongs the power, and the glory, the praise and the honour? Our culture seems preoccupied with worshipping the things and not the Creator and Giver.
We might give honour to: ourself, a prime minister, a scientist, sportsperson or the one who can drink the most and still remain standing.
We might cheer Ed Sheeran for his music and showmanship. We might jump up when a popular group like the Pacific Island Boys perform. But, do we honour and praise the one who gave these people the musical gifts they have?
Is our world blind to the Creator?
Jesus, the Creator’s only Son, even seems shrouded to the crowd who live in pursuit of death through reckless and greedy living.
People stress out to get things, while neglecting to acknowledge, except when it’s convenient – like choosing a baptism or wedding date, - that God rules in all glory and power.
The “god” of this age doesn’t seem to be “The God.” Jesus hardly gets a look into most people’s lives now. The “god of this age” seems to have it all his own way as people surrender to him so readily.
In the USA it’s estimated from census statistics in recent years that about 3,000 people per week leave Christian churches to follow some other religion.
Temptation to indulge ourselves and feast on the “things” is now to the point where people are vomiting their frustration on those about them and the system is in overload with symptoms like road rage, economic collapse and housing shortages.
People become stressed and can’t cope anymore.
Satan’s marketing is attractive – bright glossy gifts wrapped in big boxes which are empty, hollow and lifeless. It’s fun getting the wrapping off – but it’s a pain cleaning up the mess afterwards.
Just ask the children who don’t know who their dad is, or the teenager who’s not loved crying out in pain by cutting them-self.
Satan promises – he delivers – he delivers a lie. Believe the lie and we die – if you don’t believe me, ask the person desperate for another dose of crystal meth, the abused and neglected child, the lonely old lady with no visitors, …
Luke 2:14 ESV "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!" So say the angels at Jesus’ birth.
And the people said, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” And they did, and we do – every time we deny Him, neglect Him and fail to love by our words or actions.
In Jesus, here is the exact likeness of God. But what of His glory – He died too! God knows the extent and power of the lie – the wages of sin is death – our sin –Jesus’ death.
Yes! But He rose from the dead. In the midst of death there is life - Jesus’ life! In darkness there is light. Jesus whom we preach and teach, whom we share in the holy meal of the Lord’s Supper, has revealed His glory.
This glory is not revealed in having things – not in the feeble imitation Satan offers of earthly power and authority – dictators are toppled – cars rust – homes burn – beautiful bodies get wrinkles and decay.
Jesus gives real value and worth. When the Holy Spirit opens eyes and hearts we find the only value in life is revealed in Jesus – He alone is important – He alone is God!
Jesus carries the weight in the power stakes. Aircraft carriers and nuclear ballistic missiles are insignificant when compared with the revelation of God’s Being whom we see in the person of Jesus. His light is the one at the end of the tunnel.
When we focus and follow the light of Jesus we have purpose and power – His purpose and His power. It comes from outside of our selves, from God’s Word.
As St Paul says, 5For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, … Today, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Nataasha proclaimed Jesus Christ as Lord when she confessed her faith to God and to us and received all of God’s blessing and promise in Holy Baptism.
Glory belongs to God. This glory has been revealed to us. In part it’s revealed in nature – sunset, mountains, fire, - yet these things do not bring us into God’s presence – they only point to the Creator God – we cannot fully know God in nature.
God’s glory may be revealed through “things” yet in themselves they have no power to free us from slavery to anything.
For example, a bush fire may lead us to the point that we recognise that we need saving, but trapped in it’s midst we can do nothing to save ourselves – the things - the home, the car, even the swimming pool, are helpless to save in the firestorm.
We need to be rescued by God!
God’s glory, as I’ve already said, is revealed in Jesus the Christ. He comes into our lives through Baptism. He’s been given to us to set us free from the “things” and false glory.
Jesus is the one who gives knowledge and understanding so that we can see and experience God’s glory – in part here on earth – in full in eternal life.
We know God through knowing Jesus. Having a living relationship with Jesus means we are set free from the power of death. Set free to serve not to be mastered by anything or anyone except the Lord God.
This means we can imitate Jesus in serving one another by sacrificing ourselves and our own “rights” to invest in our responsibilities in caring for family, looking after spiritual needs, looking after the church property and providing a listening ear and helping hand to those in need.
We’re free to imitate Jesus as He gave His life for ours. His glory is found in our weakness. We’ve fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 ESV … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, …
But Romans 3:24 ESV …are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
God has called Nataasha, and all of us in our weakness, to gather from far off into the presence of Jesus and His saints in worship to witness to His glory so that the world may know who the one true God is.
We’re called to show God’s deeds to the world – how God has impacted our lives, how He has worked in history to bring hope and new life to people just as the Creator will cause green shoots to come through the ashes of a bush fire.
As we put on Christ, guided by His Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament, that is the Word of God and visible signs commanded by Him, we show Jesus and His face to the world.
The face of Jesus which was changed, transfigured, on the mountain before the disciples is the same face we share with the world so that the world may catch a glimpse of God in us.
The face of Jesus in you gives light and encouragement to others so that God may be glorified. When God is glorified now, we share in the future glory of God – this glory is revealed in apparent weakness – Jesus’ death – and in absolute power – Jesus’ resurrection.
Jesus’ glory has been revealed amongst us today as Nataasha received the name of The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the name of God, in Holy Baptism.
God’s glory is revealed more fully in us as we grow in faith from our Baptism, with wisdom and knowledge from the Word of God. And when Christ returns we will all sing in perfect pitch with the heavenly angels, “Glory to God in the highest!”