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Tell the Nations How Glorious God Is!

by Father Jonathan Atchley


Late in life, I realize I have one purpose for existing: to glorify God.  God is glorious!  What is glory?  Biblically speaking, it is a summary of the majestic qualities and characteristics that are made known to us creatures that are his infinite perfections.  God’s glory is a term that describes his sublime character and divine nature which is made known so that it can be honored and celebrated publicly by all.  When Jesus completed his ministry on earth, he prayed that the Father would restore his glory (John 17:1) temporarily surrendered when he took on our humanity to suffer and die for us.  God’s glory is the context in which we were brought into existence and for which we will live to rejoice and celebrate for eternity. 

 

Psalm 115:3 says God does whatever he wills (i.e., whatever pleases him to choose).  There are no limits to his being, power, beauty, goodness: he alone is infinite, without beginning or end.  St. Thomas Aquinas notes that one of God’s greatest attributes in himself is his "aseity"or self-sufficiency: he exists without any external cause, depending only on himself for his many perfections, while we creatures of the universe exist conditionally, always dependent on God who keeps us in existence.  Of course, for us, God’s greatest attribute, besides being infinite love, is his ongoing mercy offered us even when we offend him by our sins.  But in himself, God's perfection is found in himself, the source and the summit of every good and perfection known or yet to be realized.  To the inverse extent that we are limited and look to sources beyond ourselves for happiness and perfection, God is in himself already that perfection in need of nothing. 


God's glory is made known that all might praise, worship and honor him.  It indirectly benefits God to perfect what he brought into existence, although he needs nothing beyond himself for his own happiness or perfection.  When we creatures are perfected, God's glory increases; one might say in a mercenary way that the value of his stock has increased. Of course, we add nothing to him, although he creates within himself a need for us that is more real than the greatest love one person can have for another!  God doesn't need us, but being love, he almost cannot help himself reach out to us with compassion and blessings beyond our imagining. And as God’s creation, we are blessed and perfected in our worship of him; our prayers and service to God are designed to make us happy and fulfilled.  A poor analogy of the way glory works might be found in example of a writer who describes the hero of his story--a character who reflects qualities that the writer wishes to imbue in him.  The more the hero reflects and resonates with readers those characteristics put into words by the author, the more that character is gloriously rendered and memorably enjoyed by all.  So too, the more we live in unison with God’s purpose ingrained into our very being, the more we are rewarded by the perfection with which we were designed and brought into existence.

 

Although I stumble trying to describe what cannot be fully articulated, I am convinced that we must strive to live out this challenge as a way of finding ultimate joy and peace.  While nothing can fully comprehend God, even in an eternity of revelations on the most perfect and intimate level, it is our reward in heaven to embrace and be embraced fully by him.  By living here and now in accord with God’s will, we hope to endlessly achieve that blissful vision of this glorious Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.  Thus I may stumble over myself trying to put into words what cannot be expressed, but for an attainable purpose, arousing our imagination and hearts that we might more fervently invest ourselves in adulation and worship of the one, marvelously majestic Divinity.  All praise to God from whom our blessings flow! 


I find a good deal of insight from the psalmist, who declares (in psalm 16):


Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.I say to the Lord: “You are my God. My happiness lies in you alone.”

He has put into my heart a marvelous love for the faithful ones who dwell in his land. Those who choose other gods increase their sorrows. Never will I offer their offerings of blood. Never will I take their name upon my lips.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;it is you yourself who are my prize. The lot marked out for me is my delight: welcome indeed the heritage that falls to me!

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel, who even at night directs my heart. I keep the Lord ever in my sight: since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad; even my body shall rest in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay.

You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand happiness for ever.


Now, how will you go about telling the nations how glorious God is?


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