This past month, C.S. Lewis’ essay, The Weight of Glory has been lingering in my mind. Perhaps this has been potentiated by the fact that we are studying Paul’s letter to the Ephesians with the church, in which there is a great deal of overlap on this intriguing idea of the christian and glory.
Lewis establishes that we all seek glory. We all seek fulfillment. It seems that we are created with a yearning in our souls for a greatness that is out of this world. Various cultures and people groups substitute this with a variety of fillers, but these only prove the point of its reality. It is utterly inhuman to desire to be unglorified – degraded, stomped in the dust, unaccomplished, worthless. Nobody lives that way.
We all want something more. We all need to see ourselves within the framework of some sort of progress.
The thing that has really stuck out to me lately is that the christian path to glory is very much unlike the path the rest of the world takes. We are told that we set goals, believe in ourselves, work hard – and we will accomplish great things, we will conquer greater heights. Jesus’ disciples even took this path.
“Lord, grant us to sit at your right and left hand in glory!”
Numerous times, Jesus goes on to rebuke them, saying that whoever desires to be first in the kingdom will be the last of all in this life. But what is wrong with seeking glory in the kingdom of God? Isn’t this a good thing? After all, they were asking to sit beside him, not in the place of him, right?
And yet, we notice once again that Jesus does not actually rebuke their quest for glory. Instead, he rebukes their path to it. As we zoom out and see the big picture, we see that he is actually giving a more accurate direction of how they can attain it.
The second question that arises is why servanthood? Why does the one who desires to be first need to become the last? Whats the correlation between true greatness and taking the last place?
The answer to all these questions is really quite simple. We complicate the issue as we dilute our God given thirst with our selfish ambitions. Christ himself is the way. He is life, the living water, the door, the shepherd. He leads us in the way to a new and greater life as he leads us to himself. He gives us his glory as he gives us himself. There is no greater greatness in the universe than to know the One who holds it.
This brings us to the point on becoming last – we cannot have our own selfish ambitions and him together. We take the one and renounce the other. We must be ready to give it all away, to take up the cross, to count all things as loss compared to knowing him. He is either our King or he is not.
But what about my status? My role in the church? My accomplishments in life? My place in the kingdom of God?
Ah but thats the point, is it not? None of it is ours. True greatness and glory belong to him alone, as does every penny, every breath, every minute of time we think we own. The only way to grab hold of both this life and the next, to make the most of it, to attain great things – is to let it all go and grab hold of him. True glory and greatness is not defined by the person we become or the things we achieve. Those are mere fruits. They are the rays of light but not the source. The substance belongs to Christ.
Are you struggling with figuring out your place in his kingdom? Delight your soul in him and him alone. Fill your life with his Word. Let yourself become completely his. And as his fruits and rays of glory become more and more abundant in your life, as you grow and he is working through us more and more, you will all the more understand Paul’s heart as he says,
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” (Philippians 3:8)