September 8, 2010

God's Love for His Own Glory

For quite a long time I have struggled with the idea that God loves his own glory.  In my thinking, this made God to be self-centered and self-oriented, and that was deeply troubling.  The problem in my thinking was that I was thinking of God more like a really big version of myself rather than one who is transcendent, perfect, and unlike me.  If I were in love with my own glory, it would be narcissistic, a manifestation of my fallenness. Why should it be different for God?  I also struggled to reconcile God's love of his own glory with his self-revelation in Christ on the cross.  The cross seemed to reveal one so perfectly other-oriented and externally focused.  How could one who would suffer for others be consumed with his own glory? 

During some of my reading this year, the Lord kindly allowed it to occur to me that his glory is supremely beautiful.  God's glory is of the utmost perfection, the truest beauty, and the greatest majesty.  Nothing more glorious can be conceived.  As I meditated on the beauty of God's glory, I recalled something that one of my best friends, who is a student of philosophy, shared with me.  If something is beautiful, then it must also be true.  And whatever is not true cannot itself be beautiful.  Reflecting on this, I realized that if God's glory is beautiful, then it must also be true.  And if God is to be true, he must affirm the truth of the supreme beauty of his own glory.  Carrying this line of thought to its necessary conclusion, it was made clear to me that because God's glory is beautiful, and because it is true that there is nothing more glorious and beautiful than God's own glory, then God must love his own glory supremely.  What else could he love more?  If he were to love a lesser glory, then he would be denying the truth that his own glory is the of the greatest beauty.  There would then be fault in God, for he would love supremely that which is not supremely lovely.  If it is true that God's glory is of the greatest beauty, then God must affirm the truth of the beauty of his glory by loving his glory most supremely. 

It should be understood as well that God's love for his glory is not in contradiction with his love for humanity as manifest in Christ crucified.  Human beings were made in God's image to bear the glory of that image.  Christ died to restore the beauty of the image of the glory of God in his human creation.  As a result, the cross is the perfect revelation of God's love for his own glory and his desire for the beauty of that glory to be magnified through men and women made in his image.  The glory of God and the glory of God in man do not stand in contradiction.  Rather, the one is the ground of the other. 

4 comments:

ἐκκλησία said...

Good post. Interesting.

Would the following summarize your argument?

If idolatry is the act of loving something more than God, and God does not commit idolatry, than God cannot love anything more than He loves Himself?

Matt O'Reilly said...

That would seem to be another way of putting it.

ἐκκλησία said...

That comment at the end, suggests another way of looking at Jesus' two greatest commandments:

You wrote: "Human beings were made in God's image to bear the glory of that image.

This suggests:

1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind [Deut 6:4]

2. Love the image of God in your neighbour as you love His image in yourself. [Lev 19:18]

From [Gen 9:6] we know that what is done to man is done to the image of God, and that God shares His glory with no one [Isa 42:8][Isa 48:11].

Your observation suggests that Jesus' two great commandments were ALSO God focus'd rather than his second commandment as being humanistic.

Nice work - Matt.

Matt O'Reilly said...

Thanks