the light of GodThe Question

Something very important is missing from the church in America.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

Our heavenly Father’s glory is to be “in the church”. What is this glory? Are you seeing it? Before you answer those questions, let’s make sure we understand just what glory is.

Glory (doxa): splendor, brightness, magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace, majesty; a thing belonging to God; the kingly majesty which belongs to him as supreme ruler, majesty in the sense of the absolute perfection of the deity; a thing belonging to Christ; the kingly majesty of the Messiah; the absolutely perfect inward or personal excellency of Christ; the state of blessedness into which believers are to enter hereafter through being brought into the likeness of Christ.  Outline of Biblical Usage, BlueLetterBible.org

The word glory appears in the NKJV 404 times. Needless to say, it is an important word in God’s kingdom and our lives. Glory belongs to God the Father and Christ His Son, and it is a condition “which believers are to enter”. There is a glory that has been reserved for the Father’s many children; for those that will follow His Son.

17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.  2Peter 1:16-18

Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, received glory from His Father, the Excellent Glory, on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus in turn gave it to those that would become His disciples.

22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.  John 17:22-23

This – giving His Father’s glory to His many sons – is one of Jesus Christ’s primary missions. In fact, it is one of the reasons He suffered.

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.  Hebrews 2:10

So where is the splendor, brightness, magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace, and majesty of God “in the church”? Has the glory been lost? Has Jesus abandoned His mission? Has He retracted His commands?

14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16

In this passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is speaking to all that would follow Him throughout the church age. To the church, He has declared not that we “shall be” or “could be”, but that we are the light of the world; a light that cannot be hidden. Furthermore, we are commanded to let that light shine. So where is the light? Has it gone out? Or, is it being suppressed?

There once was a city like the one Jesus is describing here; perhaps the very one He wants us to consider.

1 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised
In the city of our God,
In His holy mountain.
2 Beautiful in elevation,
The joy of the whole earth,
Is Mount Zion on the sides of the north,
The city of the great King.
3 God is in her palaces;
He is known as her refuge.

4 For behold, the kings assembled,
They passed by together.
5 They saw it, and so they marveled;
They were troubled, they hastened away.
6 Fear took hold of them there,
And pain, as of a woman in birth pangs,
7 As when You break the ships of Tarshish
With an east wind.  Psalm 48:1-14

Am I wrong in thinking that the world in America would have a different opinion of the church if it could see the glory we have been given? Would we be so frustrated in our struggles for a platform, or a place “at the table” of public opinion? Would we need to fight for life and prayer in school? Or would the world in America be coming to the church of Jesus Christ for the answers to society’s ills? Would their kings not tremble at the glory they would see in the people of God?

I am sure that every member of His church knows the answers to these questions. The church in America could be so much more to the world in this desperate day. More importantly, she could be so much more for God’s kingdom!

So, let me ask you a better question: How do we, the church of Jesus Christ, become the glory again? How does the church in America become the light it was intended to be? What must we do for the glory to return?

The Answer

Whether it was removed or suppressed, the glory of God was “lost” to the church in America when the leaders of the church began doing God’s work the world’s way. Let me say that again:

The glory of God was “lost” to the church in America when the leaders of the church began doing God’s work the world’s way.

God will give His glory to His children, but He will not allow it to be mixed with the ways of the world. The world is at enmity with God. God will not ally Himself with an enemy. He will not allow His glorious work to be polluted with the ungodly ways and systems of this world.

Let me be clear of two things here: First, though they bear much of the weight of God’s judgment, we must be careful in our judgment of the “clergy”; for we are a kingdom of kings and priests, and there are many called to make disciples… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded. Everyone with a sphere of influence – we call them Marketplace Leaders – has a responsibility for the city that is set upon a hill.

This is a good thing, my second clarifying point, and the answer to our question:

Our greatest hope for the return of God’s glory to the church in America is the hope that He will move on the hearts of men and women in the Marketplace; to encourage, edify and equip them to discover His ways, and to do them.

His Ways

8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

Read this verse again, carefully. It means exactly what it says: Man’s ways are not God’s ways. This means three important things: First, He does not adopt and bless the ways of man. Second, He has His own ways of doing things. Third, His ways are better than man’s.

Now, God has blessed us with a book, The Holy Bible, which prescribes many of His ways: How to treat our enemies; how to love the brethren; how to represent Him in the world, etc. There are other ways of God that are not written out plainly for our understanding. In either case, they are the mysteries of God.

11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that
‘ Seeing they may see and not perceive,
And hearing they may hear and not understand;
Lest they should turn,
And  their  sins be forgiven them.’”  Mark 4:11-12

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.  Proverbs 25:2

This is a great advantage for the children of God – at least those that will search out the mysteries of His kingdom. This is where Marketplace Leaders most often fail. Many are quick to adopt the ways of the world, hoping God will bless them in it. Regrettably, these ways become traps, distractions and deceptions to them. The ways of the world take precedence in their lives – at work, home, and even in the church. Consequently, the leaders God has established fail in their calling to be faithful stewards of His mysteries.

1 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.  1Corinthians 4:1-2

Some will say that the ways of the world are impossible to avoid; there are policies at work, rules in politics, and expected orders of conduct in family clans. Even churches follow accepted business processes, procedures and organization; it’s required by the laws of the land. All this is true. We are called to be in the world. However, we are also called to be not of this world. How is this possible?

It is simple, really: The way to follow the ways of God in the world is to put His ways first. This is not an action as much as it is a decision. Once you surrender to God’s ways, you will first desire to hear what they are – waiting on Him (Note: This is one of His ways). Having surrendered to the preeminence of His ways, you can then function in the world without becoming a part of it.

God will guide you in the understanding of His way for every situation in your life. In the process, you will become a king that searches out a matter – and you will find glory in it! This is one of God’s ways of returning glory to the church!!

There are many other wonderful ways of God. There is God’s way of finding peace, in Philippians 4:4-7, that will outperform even the best anxiety medicine. There is His way of making disciples; the way that most in the church have abandoned (see Making Disciples God’s Way). And there is Jesus’ prescription for dealing with our enemies, found in Matthew 5:43-45.

Of course, there are many other ways of God that you will want to search out for yourself. For now, let me close with one that is specific to our topic: God’s way for transforming us into the image of the glory of His Son.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.  2Corinthians 3:18

The ways of God are easy to understand for those that have surrendered to Him. The way of this verse is a great example. The way to return God’s glory to the church in America requires five simple steps (not necessarily in serial order):

  1. “But we all”: The return of glory requires unity; agreement with Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21-23.
  2. “With unveiled face”: The children of the Old Covenant were blind to the return of the kingdom of God in the hearts of men. They rejected the lordship of Jesus Christ. He must be Lord, for His glory to return.
  3. “Beholding”: Christ will manifest Himself to those that obey His commandments; and He will be manifested in the mirror of the Holy Bible, and His life in our brothers and sisters.
  4. “Are being transformed”: The Greek here is metamorphoo. Like the caterpillar, we must lose our life to gain His; and lay hold of the life that is the light of men – His glory in the church.
  5. “By the Spirit”: It is the Holy Spirit’s work to transform us. God is working in us to will and do to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Our willing and doing is one of the religious world’s ways and systems. God will not mix the glory of His work with the ways of the world.

Your Assignment

God has blessed the church in America by putting His children in positions of influence and authority. He has positioned reinforcements for the return of glory to the church in America; “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2Peter 1:3-4)

  1. As a child of God, and follower of Jesus Christ, reckon this passage to be true for you. Do so until the truth of it has made you free to pursue God’s purpose in your life.
  2. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, share what you have learned here with those you are discipling.
  3. Pursue the steps of transformation with at least a few in your sphere of influence.

Humbly yours and His forever,

Rob Streetman

President, inLight Consulting, Inc.

P.S.: My concern is you have read this post as one more opinion to consider. Please, if the truth here has caused faith to rise up in you, don’t miss the opportunity to be God’s instrument of righteousness in the Marketplace. The church in America needs you. Please let me know how I can help you.