THE CONSUMING GLORY OF CHRIST
II cor.4: 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
How can human words accurately and completely provide the looking glass into the glory of Jesus the Christ? I mean we are so limited in our definition, to say nothing of our knowledge, of the word “glory” that it presents an insurmountable challenge to present the glory of Christ through the medium of words. And yet the Spirit has allowed us to undertake that challenge even though it cannot be complete. How can the finite capture the infinite? How can the limited communicate the limitless? How can the temporal teach the eternal?
But I submit that because it is limitless and eternal and filled with a glory which cannot be fully comprehended, that the challenge to even pursue it is a sacred wonder which fuels our souls and brings us into places we never dreamed existed. And we were so ignorant to the fact that these places could welcome our minds and hearts. Emotionalism, you suggest? Oh my dear brothers and sisters, if you believe that seeking the face of Christ with a broken and contrite heart and desiring to more fully enter into His presence is emotionalism then you are dwelling in a wilderness of dry doctrine and perfunctory religious oblations.
In these days of false teachings and great error many have pitched their tents upon hills witch overlook and continually spy on those spiritual miscreants. Some pitch their tents on denominational hills, some on national hills, some on moral hills, and many pitch their tents on their own hill. Oh but there is a river which floods the soul and cleanses the heart and rushes our hearts and minds down to the mouth of that river which drains into the utter expanse of an endless ocean called Christ. And those who have gladly drowned in His ocean suddenly realize that Christ was the source, and Christ was the destination, and Christ was the river itself.
If we really knew and experienced the glory and magnitude of the kingdom where Christ alone is king then we would seek Him with all of our being. We would be consumed with pursuing Him every moment. Even while we worked our hearts would be completely surrendering to His presence. So much of what now occupies and even consumes our time would lose all its appeal. Our non-responses to any and all offences committed toward us would be effortless. The constant back and forth of politics would have no entrance into our hearts and minds. The country called America would be the field in which we labor for the gospel and it would surely not elicit any kind of personal allegiance.
The Scriptures would be a source of daily survival and they would occupy a most sacred place in our heart and our lips. Prayer would be the reality in which we lived and breathed and not just some perfunctory religious exercise. And worship would be the absolute spiritual nexus which relentlessly called to us. Our emotions would regularly be on edge as we were continually in a state of brokenness over the majesty of the Risen Christ. And the reality of eternity would be so real and so tangible that this world would hold no power or allurement over us. In fact, our lives would be a living sacrifice that burned continually for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In essence, if we really knew and experienced the glory and magnitude of His kingdom we would gladly die so that He might live in our place.
Col.1: 9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Think about the implications and exhortations of these verses. We are to be filled with the knowledge of His will, and in so doing we walk worthy of the Lord, and we are increasing in the knowledge of God. Increasing? We have our systematic theologies and our statements of faith and our neat little doctrinal presentations, so what does the Spirit mean to “increase in the knowledge of God”? How have we left the sacrifice went chasing the birds of this present world? But to increase in that knowledge requires more than just memorizing and studying what you already know. It demands much more than being fluent in theology and doctrine.
Increasing in the knowledge of our Blessed savior require spiritual labor. When have we fasted just to seek Him? When have we for one week refused to speak anything but wholesome words which bring our hearts into compliance with His will? When have we surrendered an entire day just to pray and meditate and walk with Him in the Spirit? The example of Martha seems so much stronger than the place where Mary worshiped at His feet and let every one of His words flow into her being.
This is not some ethereal philosophy which deals in machinations of the mind. This is the reality of His glory which is His presence which should be, which must be, the very essence of what it means to be His worshiping follower. We have lost the very part of our faith which brings life to these earthbound bodies. Afraid of excesses as well as imprisoned by the dictates of the temporal, we continue to pass by the surpassing majesty of deeper revelations of the Eternal Christ while we feast on the cotton candy of this present world.
Oh, but as you read these poor words do they resonate with your inward man? Do you not feel a authentic and heartfelt longing to know Him more? Are you not convicted on some level with the paltry sacrifices we present to Him as if we fit Him into our pressing lives? Just coming out from among them and separating yourself unto Him opens doors to endless treasures that the average pew dweller will never know. His Being is an endless flow of heavenly manna which is new and fresh every moment and yet so much of Him remains untouched because who seeks Him with that kind of relentless fervor?
But how can we explore the depths of His glory? To sit back and allow mere words to do our spiritual labor is a fool’s errand. The Spirit calls and calls and calls and yet who hears and who follows? I submit to you that the lack of prayer and fasting continues to allow the church to spiral down into the abyss of outward religion, and it has stripped the church of the true and earth shaking knowledge of the Christ we profess. This is no small correction that can be repaired by just a little more attention to ecclesiastical detail. No, a thousand times no!
It is this very dearth of knowledge that causes the church to hate sinners. It is this perfunctory religion which leads the church to seek political leverage. It is this passionless discipleship which allows the church to go into debt and spend large amounts of money on salaries and buildings and activities and advertisement. It is this shallow religious spirit which leads people to seek excitement rather than brokenness. It is this religious culture which ignores Christ and studies man and his desires.
But who will hear the call and drop the cares of this world and quickly retreat into the glory of His soaring presence? Who will see this decaying world for what it is and leave that which is perishing for that which is eternal? Who will leave behind all grudges and unforgiveness and fall on bended knee in surrender to Him? Who will feel such a thirst that only being with Christ will quench it? Who will acknowledge a voice crying, “Come and dine!”? Who will see that we have left our first Love and allowed all kinds of religious activities to replace the glory of His matchless presence?
Is.40: 28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
It is a wonderful given that one day every redeemed soul will look upon Him in all His glory. But we are called to wait upon Him and seek His face.
Ps.27: 4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.
Fasting and prayer and meditation are portals through which we can allow the Spirit to transform us from glory to glory. And if we are willing and surrendered to seek Him with all of our hearts than we are afforded by His grace a place which is both shadowed by His everlasting wings as well as unimaginably illuminated by the glory emanating from His being.
If that is way too metaphysical or heavenly or rarefied for your religious taste then so be it. But one day, if you are redeemed, as you gaze at His immobilizing glory you might regret the time you wasted pouring over the nonsense of this present world. But if we are willing to lay down upon the altar of His grace, and if we are willing to deny ourselves so that we may apprehend Him, and if to live is Christ and to die is gain, then be prepared, You are about to be consumed by Christ and Christ alone in all of His glory.