You’re Probably Not Stealing God’s Glory
. . . Our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant . . . For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory . . .Since we have such a hope, we are very bold,not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face . . .But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed . . . Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. (2 Corinthians 3:5–18)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him . . . all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15–17)
As a Christian artist, the word “glory” freaks me out sometimes. The nature of an artist’s work is to be seen, heard, and hopefully liked. How can we be sure that our very attention-gaining talents give glory to Christ, and not to ourselves?
Glory. What’s That?
Some old smart guys said that the Greek word used for glory in 2 Corinthians 3 comes from the root word “doxa.” Strong’s Concordance and HELPS Word-studies describe doxa with phrases like “renown,” “intrinsic worth,” and “the unspoken manifestation of God.” Both start with the idea of “opinion”: that something evokes a high opinion simply through its existence.
Based on the contexts where the word is used in the Bible, glory is actually an attribute of God. It seems glory is, simply, seeing God; the revelation of his character and being.
Paul describes Christ as “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). If Christ is the image of God, and glory is when we see God, Christ is God’s glory. And when Christ makes us like him, he glorifies us. Glorification is to be made like Christ.
With that understanding, what are we really worried about when we talk giving God his glory?
The Freeing Acknowledgements
Through the passage in Colossians, I learned two freeing acknowledgements as an artist that cleared misunderstandings about attention and glory.
1) I could never compete with God.
Anything I can do, God can do better. No matter how much I shine, I could never knock God off his pedestal. That’s just the truth and the order of things. That also means false acts of humility actually insult him. (Hey, God. I’ll take it easy so I don’t overshadow your perfect and blinding light.)
2) Everything I have the ability to do is from God.
We showcase God every time we use our gifts. That means we glorify God more by using all that he’s given us to the fullest. My voice isn’t mine. My style isn’t mine. My ideas aren’t mine. Instead of fretting over them, recognize God as the source and rejoice in it. (James 1:17 puts it this way: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”)
All that sounds great for the individual. But did you also know that, through your creative gifts, you can be “ministers of the new covenant?”
New Covenant Art
In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul combats the restricting teaching of the Jews who were using Moses’s Law—the old glory—as a counter to Christ’s work—the surpassing glory. The Jews’ teaching was needlessly barring people from the glorified state Christ gifted us.
Condemnation snatches true glory away from Christ and his finished work. It stunts freedom, disguised as a righteous self-evaluation. The world needs you and your art to be ministers of the powerful, bold new covenant. Whatever art you produce should be created in the freedom of that new covenant, in order to express the glory of Christ.