The past three weeks we've been examining the "best worship service ever" found in Revelation 19:6-8. Here's what we've learned so far:
By eavesdropping on eternity and listening to the voices of those on the other side, we can get our values clarified, our worship reclaimed, and today, we'll learn how to get our glory reoriented.
3. Glory Reorientation
Last week I purposely chose the phrase Worship Reclamation instead of Worship Commencement. Commencement would infer that we need to launch, or initiate, our worship. Reclamation (to reclaim) means that our worship is already ongoing and needs to be recovered, rehabilitated, and redirected.
The same logic applies for today’s phrase - Glory Reorientation. We don’t need to be oriented, or introduced, to glory for the first time. As human beings, we've been hardwired for glory. We were created by a glorious God and given all types of glory receptors.
Whether we know it or not, we're always experiencing glory. For me, I love how much of the glory of God is edible! Delicious food was created by a glorious God for the praise of his name. For others, music can be a source of glory. Harmonies and melodies were created by a glorious God for the praise of his name.
The list of glories goes on and on. Sex is a glorious thing. Artistic creativity is a glorious thing. Fashion and design are glorious things. Mountains, forests, oceans, and the animals that inhabit those ecosystems are all glorious things, created by a glorious God for the praise of his name.
It's impossible to exist on earth without experiencing and enjoying the tangible glory of God.
SIGN GLORY & ULTIMATE GLORY
All of those things I mentioned above – sex, food, music, color, and nature – are sign glories that reveal an ultimate glory - the glory of God. Another way to think about it is like this: the glory of the created world is one giant finger, or a million small fingers, pointing us heavenward to the glory of the Creator.
But here's where we get in trouble: we stop at the sign.
Consider this illustration, as absurd as it might be. Imagine you and your family are driving to Disney World, and about 100 miles out, you see a sign for the resort complex. Because you see letters that spell Disney World, you pull the car over and have your vacation on the side of the road. What a wasted vacation! You never actually got to experience the true "glory" of Disney World because you stopped at the sign.
The same is true with us. We're so excited by the sign glories of sex, food, music, color, and nature that we actually miss out on true glory. The tangible sign glories we experience are never meant to be the final destination; they're meant to attract us into intimate relationship with the Creator.
Feeding the 5,000
Jesus talks about this during his earthly ministry. After feeding the 5,000, the crowd tracks him down and he exposes their hearts. “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” (John 6:26).
Jesus fed 5,000 people, not primarily because they were physically hungry, but because they were spiritually starving. Of course, Jesus had compassion on their physical needs, but the miracle of the loaves and the fishes was meant to be a sign pointing to himself. But the crowd missed the point; all they wanted was the ultimate buffet.
When we listen to the voices of those in eternity, they’re not celebrating the tangible sign glories they experienced on earth. No, they're celebrating the Ultimate Glory, their relationship with God.
When I read this passage, I’m always convicted that I stop way too short. I often settle for the temporary pleasure of the sign glory and don’t allow my heart to spill over into praise for God. What about you?
- When you experience a great meal, are your taste buds the only part of you to rejoice? Or does your soul rejoice knowing that you've been given spiritual food and drink that will never run out?
- When you experience the intimacy of sex, is your body the only part of you to feel pleasure? Or is your soul pleased knowing that you've been joined together with Christ for eternity?
- When you experience the sensation of music, are your ears the only part of you to celebrate? Or does your soul celebrate the creativity of your God and the future celebration that is to come?
You see, you and I don't need to be introduced to glory - we experience glory every day. But you and I do need to have our hearts exposed and our glory receptors reoriented to heaven. Thankfully, God will not abandon us in our time of need.
Romans 3:23-24 says "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift." We've been pardoned once and for all by the gift of grace, but God also gifts us with his grace every morning. This grace exposes our hearts, forgives our glory confusion, and reorients our glory receptors day after day after day.