Westerners are allergic to honor. For example, the United States Constitution (1.9.8) forbids using titles of nobility as honorifics. America passed a law making honoring people illegal (ironic, huh?!).
A reader recently emailed me this comment that echoes how most Western Christians think about honor and glory: “From my understanding, Christianity speaks to an innocence-guilt culture, and it is the nature of Christianity to not seek ‘honor’, a motive that is seen as immature and naive. Just wondering what your thoughts are?” Even C.S. Lewis candidly acknowledged a negative posture towards glory: “There is no getting away from the fact that this idea [of glory] is very prominent in the New Testament and in early Christian writings. Salvation is constantly associated with palms, crowns, white robes, thrones, and splendor like the sun and stars. All this makes no immediate appeal to me at all, and in that respect I fancy I am a typical modern. Glory suggests two ideas to me, of which one seems wicked and the other ridiculous.”
Should Christians seek glory? How would you personally answer these separate questions:
- Should Christians seek respect?
- Should Christians seek honor?
- Should Christians seek glory?
People often answer “yes,” “maybe,” then “no.” These questions raise a significant point about the Christian life—God gives glory and honor to his people.
- “[God] crowned them with glory and honor.” (Psalm 8:5)
- “My salvation and honor depend on God.” (Psalm 62:7)
- “The glory that you have given me I have given them.” (John 17:22, Jesus speaking to the Father)
The biblical answer is a definite yes, God’s people should seek glory and honor. In fact, twice the Pharisees are rebuked for not properly seeking glory.
- “How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God?” (John 5:44)
- “They loved human glory more than the glory comes from God.” (John 12:43)
Christians can, and must, seek glory—but not just any glory, the right kind of glory. Christians pursue the honor that comes from being shamed; the victory that comes from being last; the power that comes from weakness; the status that comes from humility; the authority that comes from serving. God does not dismiss honor (or glory) as immature or naïve, but calls people to true and eternal glory found in Christ. The crucifixion was not simply the means for procuring our salvation, it also patterns the nature of our salvation—shameful death leads to glorious life (2 Cor).
C.S. Lewis on Christian Glory
C.S. Lewis addresses this question of Christian glory in his sermon, “The Weight of Glory.” His words explain how glory is essential in Christian salvation, as it satisfies man’s deepest longings.
To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is. … If I had rejected the authoritative and scriptural image of glory and stuck obstinately to the vague desire which was at the outset, my only pointer to heaven, I could have seen no connection at all between that desire and the Christian promise….Glory, as Christianity teaches me to hope for it, turns out to satisfy my original desire and indeed to reveal an element in that desire which I had not noticed.”