One of the many things my wife, Maureen, has helped me to understand is the value of love stories and romance. Over the last 37 years I’ve known her, I’ve seen dozens of “chick flicks.” I’ve also had advanced classical training in Jane Austen (Pride & Prejudice), Emma Orczy (Scarlet Pimpernel), and Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre), which I’m sure is God’s subtle way of helping me find my inner feminine side. 🙂
On the other hand, raising three boys, and being married to one, Maureen has attended many sporting events and watched guy movies over the years, like Braveheart (although she still refuses to see Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers,” which are the quintessential “guy flicks.”) All of which I’m sure are designed to help round out her human experience.
Why do these love stories bring a tear to our eyes (even us men, if we will be brave enough to admit it), and why do acts of heroism and courage move us so?
Why does seeing the love between two people blossom and overcome great obstacles, like in Jane Eyre, or Mel Gibson’s character, William Wallace, crying out “Freedom!” with his last breath in the movie, Braveheart, pull on our heart strings?
It’s all because we were created for glory.
Glory can best be defined as “God’s divine nature revealed.” God is love, so glory is always about love. It’s seen among us in the passionate affections between two lovers, the other-centered love of parents for their children, or in the selfless acts of sacrifice of the courageous.
On the other hand, we’re also moved by the poignancy of unrequited love, and we sense the inglorious whenever there’s unfaithfulness, injustice, or acts of cold-hearted cruelty.
We’re moved by these things because we are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet.1:4)…something profoundly and deeply resonates within us because we’re experiencing a little bit of the very heart of God.
Our justification (forgiveness of sin) is only the beginning of our journey with God; the ultimate goal is our glorification. God chose us for sonship before He created anything (Eph.1:4-5) so that we could fully express His glory (bold type added):
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Rom.8:29-30 NKJV)
Christ has given us His glory so that we can live in community—both in our placement in His relationship with the Father in heavenly places and with each other on this earth.
22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one. (John 17:22 NKJV)
I shared in my post, “Eternal life and heaven are about relationship,” that heaven is really about connection. This is also what makes our lives meaningful, which is why broken relationships and disconnection hurts so much. We get a small taste of what hell must be like.
Glory is about going deeper, into greater connection and relational intimacy. We were created to move from “glory to glory” as we behold God (2 Cor.3:18). As we connect more deeply to God, we connect more deeply to one another. We must see this greater glory as a greater capacity for other-centered love.
This glory must affect our marriages, our families, our faith, our communities, our work…all of our relationships. Otherwise, what is it? Have we actually experienced glory? Or have we been looking for something to distract our walled-up and wounded hearts? Something to entertain us and keep us from getting bored, or something we can brag about?
Beloved, glory is so not that! Glory frees the human heart to fully love.
And when our heart is free to love, we begin to see glory all around us. We see it in our literature, music, and movies…in simple acts of service to our fellow man…we experience it while looking up at the stars on a warm summer night with our children on our laps.
Glory changes us and shapes us, making us more human.
We dare not look at any of these things as secular, but manifestations of divine glory among us, something truly sacred and most precious.
Every act of courage is glory because it requires a death of our need to protect ourselves. Every act of heroism is glory because someone was thinking about you and me more than their own lives. Jesus called this the ultimate act of love:
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13 NKJV)
We see this sacrificial love most gloriously demonstrated in Christ’s death for us on the cross. This love compels us not to live for ourselves but to live for Christ, partaking in Christ’s glory, which always leads to living selflessly for others.
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (2 Cor.5:14-15 NKJV)
Glorious one in Christ, you weren’t saved just to be forgiven; you were saved for glory! Walk in it, live in it, be loved in it, and love others passionately and sacrificially with it. For when you do, you are assured of a life well-lived in ever-increasing glory!