Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of His name; (emphasis added)
make his praise glorious. (Psalm 66:1-2)
Last night, my church wrapped-up our Vacation Bible School for this summer. We had a great time, and I was once again amazed and blessed by the eagerness with which volunteers make room in their hearts and lives to share with kids the good news of the gospel. My thanks goes out to everyone who gave of themselves to make it all happen.
During our VBS, I had the privilege of leading adults in a study of the five “sola’s” (the five “alone’s”) that rest at the heart of Reformation theology: Scripture alone, by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone, and the “sola” that we studied last night: to the Glory of God alone. This, too, turned out to be an excellent way for us to engage the good news of the gospel. But in our discussion last night, we were invited to consider: Why is it so hard for us to live “soli Deo gloria” — for the glory of God alone?
As the material on which our study was based suggested, we live in a world that rewards glory seeking and in which most of us — both knowingly and unknowingly — become “glory thieves.” From the things that we do as individuals (like this blog post) — to the things that we do as churches (like VBS) — there is a constant and subtle temptation to be more concerned about the glory that we receive than about the glory that God receives. But every time that we fall prey to this temptation, we drift further and further away from the purpose for which we exist: “to be image-bearers who reflect the Creator’s wise stewardship into the world and reflect the praises of all creation back to its Maker.” (N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began)
The good news, of course, is that we need not fall prey to this temptation. Through the cross of Christ the power of sin has been broken, and through the gift of God’s Spirit we’ve been given power to live for God’s glory rather than our own. In fact, the Bible suggests that the more completely we live for the sake of God’s glory, the more glorious we become: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate a the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
What would it look like for us to live “soli Deo gloria” — for the Glory of God alone — today? Maybe that could begin right now as we pause to praise Him and give Him glory for who He is.
May the way that God works in us hasten the day when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)