“And we, who… all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness…” 2 Corinthians 3:18
He was sitting three rows back in the aisle seat, slouched down in his chair, wearing a baseball cap on his head and a green Diesel shirt that complemented his blue jeans. He caught my eye because he seemed out of place in the setting—a chapel service at a Baptist seminary in Bucharest, Romania. I noticed him, while preaching to the group of students gathered for the meeting, because it was clear that he was a little different from his otherwise “properly” dressed classmates.
After the service was over, he came up to me with one of my books, which had been translated into Romanian. In halting English he asked if I would sign his book. “Sure, I’d be happy to,” I replied, “What’s your name?” His reply caught me off guard.
Quite frankly, the whole thing took me back a little since I had always thought that the name Emmanuel was the exclusive territory of Jesus. I thought, Emmanuel? As in the same name the angels told Joseph to give to Jesus? God with us? Wondering if I had heard him correctly, I asked again, “What did you say your name was?”
“Emmanuel,” he boldly replied.
“Do you know what Emmanuel means?”
“Yes, I do,” he said without a moment’s hesitation. It means, “God with us.”
The longer I thought about the brief encounter with the student in jeans, the more I realized we should all think of ourselves as “God with us.” When we understand that we are to live to bring glory to God, the thought that we are to be God’s representative to our world is right on target. Glorifying God simply means that we are to demonstrate God’s glory through our lives. His glory is the expression of all that He is in His all-surpassing stunning perfection. Obviously, we can’t be all that He is, nor can we pull it off in all-surpassing stunning perfection. But we can live to show others what the love, justice, integrity, trustworthiness, mercy, and grace of God are like in real life. Glorifying God means to express the reality of His attitudes, actions, and character in and through our lives.
In Scripture, we learn that God’s glory has been displayed through a variety of means. Psalm 19:1 points out that “the heavens declare the glory of God.” From the indescribable magnitude of our vast universe to the intricate details of DNA, the glory of God’s power and creative wisdom is proclaimed. God also selected a group of people, the Israelites, to reflect and portray His glory in a special way. His divine protection and direction of the Israelites as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land let the whole world know that He is a God of supreme power and goodness to His people. And, of course, the Bible points out that God’s glory is most clearly seen in Jesus Christ, the One who is “the radiance God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Hebrews 1:3). John 1:1-51 explains that the Word, God’s Son, came and pitched His tent among us so that we could see the glory of God, up close and personal.
And now it’s our turn.
My Romanian friend, Emmanuel, has a distinct edge. Every time he says or hears his name, he knows that he is to be the presence of God in his world. I wouldn’t suggest that you change your name to Emmanuel—but I would suggest that you take seriously the reason why you are saved in the first place—to demonstrate His glorious qualities to a world that has no clue about how stunningly wonderful He really is!
- How have you seen God’s glory displayed through creation? Through the stories of God’s interaction with the Israelites in the Old Testament? Through the stories about Jesus in the Gospels?
- What thoughts or insights come to your mind as you think about the privilege of displaying God’s glory through your life?
- Make a short list of the qualities of God that you most appreciate in your life. Think through how you could communicate those qualities in your world. Keep the list in mind and pray that God gives you the opportunity to glorify Him in at least one situation today.
- How will your attitudes and actions at home, school, work, in traffic, or at the mall be impacted today by the truth that you are the representative of God to your world?