"Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty;
The whole earth is full of His glory."
- Isaiah 6:3b
This familiar passage, taken from Isaiah vision of the Lord "in the year King Uzziah died (~752 B.C.)", is one of the most well known of Old Testament visions of God. We have liturgies and songs based on it, and likely if you have been in the Church long enough, you have heard one or more sermons on it.
The whole earth is full of His Glory.
That the whole earth is full of God's glory is easy enough to believe; I have traveled enough to see the wonder of His creation both here and in the near abroad. The glory of earth - the untrammeled earth - easily reflects His glory. The people in it, not so much.
If there would seem to be a single flaw in this assertion of the Seraphim as they hover before the throne of God with their faces and feet covered, eternally singing His glory, it is humankind. Us. If I look into Nature I easily see Him; if I look in the around me, not quite as much.
That would seem to be an inconsistency, would it not? In Genesis, God states "Let us create Man in our image". God - at least at that moment - views mankind as the pinnacle of His creation. and yet to look around at ourselves now, we see little if any of God's glory.
It is easy enough, I suppose, to view Man's inhumanity to man as example one of how we fail at God's glory. And those examples are as horrifying as they are self-evident. But too often that is where the Church seems to stop: the external manifestations of sin.
But stare into the way the Church is itself, the way Christians are themselves: do these represent God's glory as well? Do the services we follow reflect Heaven, or do they appeal to our own sense of what entertains us and makes us feel "spiritual"? One can make an effective argument that past glories of High Church are boring and out of touch, but does the all too often modern practice of pulsing bass, overpowered vocals, and emoting demonstrate His glory any more?
In our practices - what the Church celebrates, what it calls forth, what it glorifies - are we demonstrating the same radiance and beauty as the rest of Creation? Or do we merely reflect ourselves, what we think is important and matters and is relevant?
The Seraphim cry out that the earth is full of His glory - Are we? Are our churches?
Do we - as individuals, as the bodies of Christ on earth - do we reflect this glory that Scripture assures us the rest of the earth is filled with? Or have we become satisfied with less, that which does not call us out or challenges us only ways that we find acceptable to be challenged?
Would that we, too, might cry out "The earth is full of His glory - and that includes us".
Wow. That was quite a convicting post. My first thoughts ran to the "fearfully and wonderfully made" portion of our being. The partial pressures that allow us to breathe air, the chemical-electrical process of seeing, the engineering in our muscles and bones. Of course you can see the fingerprints of the Creator there.ReplyDelete
But just reviewing my own behavior from yesterday, little enough was pleasing to my low standards. i meet with my pastor most Saturdays, and we were talking about "blood sport" Christianity less than 24 hours ago. A subject like this, that comes up twice, is a call to course correction in my life. So be it.
One beauty of the Christian life: we aren't working on this alone. "...Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, know this, that it is God at work in you, both to will and to do of God's good pleasure" Phil 2:12-13 He works, I work. If I'm cooperating with His desires and leading, it will be holy. Even if it's doing brakes on my niece's car, or singing The Messiah for a world wide audience.
STxAR, we find ourselves in the paradox of being the beneficiary of entire processes we barely understand, and then using them in ways that seem best to us rather than deeply dwelling on the miracle that is ourselves and which we had (literally) nothing to do with. But that focus comes back on ourselves for everything: we interpret how we should respond to God, what God is pleased by, how we best meet his requirements.Delete
In other words, too often I think we are about we.
"too often I think we are about we." It is an evil.Delete
This evil is when we use HIS HOLY power in our lives for selfish or temporal reasons. Misappropriation of power. After we come to the saving knowledge of Jesus the Redeemer, our spirit is awakened by His indwelling Holy Spirit. Our living after that point is empowered by God's life in us. What we do with that, whether for His work and will or ours, is almost too terrifying to contemplate. Misappropriation, malfeasance, fraud, waste, and abuse.... Holiness, Godliness, Peace, Grace, Mercy.... The spring of salty and fresh water comes to mind. "These things ought not so to be."
It boggles my mind how He so graciously lets us continue to flop around as we learn our place, position and power. He is such a loving Father and Gracious God.
STxAR - If there is anything that has impressed itself upon me, it is that on the whole we as a species are pretty selfish. It simply is something that cannot be gotten away from. Humans in their "base state" are nothing to brag about, no matter how much "religion" is seen as an negative. If the same sort of attention was applied to the base human state as it was to religion, we would have very different conversations.Delete
I'll comment on just one portion of this:ReplyDelete
does the all too often modern practice of pulsing bass, overpowered vocals, and emoting demonstrate His glory any more?
I think the answer lies in the person playing those instruments or singing those songs. That music you describe is not my cup of tea, but if those playing or singing it are connected with the Father, who am I to judge? My experience is that those created in God's image are diverse and creative and I should appreciate the gifts they offer.
Rob - Thanks for commenting.Delete
In point of fact I know some of the folks that lead the worship program at our church and I can assure you they are indeed connected to God in that moment. I just find that this particular style does not connect me to God - which, as you say, is fine (although an almost complete abandonment of 2,000 years of Christian hymnody is a something I do find a bit alarming).
I suppose the correct question is what does glorifying God truly mean? To make Him pre-eminent in everything, yes (one recalls the Abraham Kuyper quote “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”). At the same time, I also have questions (concerns?) that if the Church looks exactly like the world, there is no difference between the two and therefore God simply becomes another "thing": a trend, a passing fad, a category to put music or books in.
Thanks for letting me ponder this more.
Sorry - Bob! Completely read it correctly in the dashboard and completely spaced when I actually typed it!Delete
A joyful noise unto the Lord...ReplyDelete
Wonderful post, TB. Thank you.
You all be safe and God bless.
Thanks Linda! I am fortunate in that I have had some amazing experiences to see God's glory in Nature in a way others have not.Delete
You've given some good food for thought here, TB.ReplyDelete
It's good, I think, to ask the questions you've posed and correct course (asking forgiveness) when we recognize we are caring more about what pleases us than what pleases God and brings Him glory. It seems to me that is at the heart of what you're writing about here. Yes?
Thank you Becki.Delete
I think the question you are positing are the correct one - I had time to think on this more (I direct you to Rob's excellent question above and the thoughts it entailed there), and I do not wonder that it is a different version of the phrase "Doing God's Work in God's Way".
One thought specifically about the music: I really do find it too loud more often than not, to the point that at the moment we are on-line as it is too loud in person (they do offer ear-plugs). If this is the path that churches are considering, they need to find a way to accommodate us "old-timers", or they will constantly be in a cycle heavily weighted in one demographic.
Sign - Bob's comment, not Rob's comment Becki. Not enough coffee...Delete
Wow - ear plugs at church? That is loud. When I was first learning to run a soundboard, I was instructed that 80 decibels during worship music was reasonable - when it gets loud. Some songs are more dynamic than others, so sometimes it's not even that loud. I just looked this up to see what people say online and I read that churches anymore tend to run between 90-100 decibels. That seems crazy to me. But I guess given what you've experience I shouldn't be surprised. Sad, though, because I know that will keep some people away. FWIW, I don't even enjoy eating in restaurants much anymore because loud music has become the norm. Hubs and my kids say it's just me. I don't know... I have a bit of hearing loss and tinnitus so it could be I suppose. Even so, it just doesn't need to be so loud when you want to eat and have a conversation.Delete
Becki, one of the few "things" I am grateful that my I-phone bothers me about is my audio levels. It is something I should be more sensitive to, as my father had to wear hearing aids for many years (his hearing was damaged through work).Delete
I can certainly sense my own hearing is not what it used to be (those earbuds are hypnotic in their use), and I am certainly not going to go out of my way to do anything that will make the problem worse. Like you, even loud restaurants are difficult to have conversations in.