Minister’s Forum: Of buckwheat and God’s glory
August 27, 2008
Buckwheat is ubiquitous around Tahoe and throughout the eastern Sierra. Being low to the ground and blending in with all the other greenery, it’s hardly noticeable until late August, when it turns to an orange-brown, as one of the first heralds of the approaching fall. I love this time of year with the energizing of the brisk morning air after the summer months. It’s a glorious time and worthwhile to just stop and behold it, even in the lowly buckwheat. In Psalm 19, we hear: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” In creation, we see evidence of God’s glory – but not just in the beautiful flora and fauna; God’s glory can also be seen in people. Our environmentalist attitudes often cut people out of the beauty of creation, but God declares that people are the crown, the crowing glory of his creation.
The Summer Olympics have showcased a kind of glory as we’ve witnessed the heights of athletic achievement. Didn’t our hearts soar as we watched them? If we follow this line of glory, we must conclude that glory means becoming increasingly more and more, and raising our performance and our quality of life above that of everyone else. Our dictionaries describe glory in terms of beauty that inspires wonder or joy, or something so good as to merit praise and lasting fame. Glory!
There’s another dimension of glory that is crucial to our understanding, for it is in Jesus Christ that we encounter the glory of God. If you’re already a follower of Jesus, you may be wondering why this kind of glory might be any different. After all, the mentions and displays of God’s glory in the Old Testament – the Red Sea crossing, Mount Sinai, Ezekiel’s and Daniel’s apocalypse, etc., were … well … glorious! But with Jesus, we have to revise our understanding of glory considerably, and that ought to bear on what we aspire to, since glory seems to be something we all value. The apostle John wrote in the introduction to his gospel: “We have seen his glory; the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Now stop and consider Jesus during his three years of public activity. He was a traveling rabbi, considered unimpressive by most, marginalized by the influential, rejected, suffering and executed as a common criminal. On the night of the Last Supper, as Jesus struggled with the course he must take, he chooses a course that, while it is the Father’s will, is entirely counter to our understanding of glory. Noble maybe, but not glorious. And when he announced to his disciples, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him” I am sure that suffering and the cross were the furthest thing from their minds.
The glory Jesus exhibited, and that he intends for us is quite different from the glory we are too often pursuing in our lives. The glory of God exhibited in Jesus, and in his followers today, is not conspicuous. It’s not a glory that brings notoriety and acclaim. When we look up glory in the Jesus Dictionary, we find … obscurity, rejection and humiliation, a sacrificial life and the bright presence of God on display through actions and activities the world overlooks. It’s no coincidence that the next thing Jesus says to his followers speaks to what glory consists of: “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this will all (people) know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Later, Jesus prayed to the Father for his disciples (us included) that we will be glorified with the same glory: “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one.” Most people who saw Jesus, never perceived his glory, and it’s really no different for Jesus disciples today, in whom Jesus’ glory is revealed. Jesus points us to true glory in which we become less, not more. “He who loses his life will save it.”
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And here’s the point: You and I, are called to participate in God’s glory today. It’s the only glory that lasts. “Whatever you do,” Paul writes, “do it all for the glory of God.”
There will be no medals, no accolades. And there’s a good chance nobody will ever see it. But you can be assured that God does, and it serves his purposes. So go out and have a glory-filled day as Jesus Christ dwells in you and brings glory to the Father through you. And keep an eye out for the lowly buckwheat-it’s glorious this time of year.
– Steven Blocher is pastor at Lake Tahoe Community Presbyterian Church.