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Sharing the Glory

Have you ever stopped to think that the way you see people determines how you treat people? Be honest. When you notice a homeless man standing on the median at a stoplight holding up a sign, what do you see? When you notice a woman stepping out of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan wearing elegant clothing accented with a dashing pearl necklace, what do you see?

Okay. I’ll be honest. I try not to look at the homeless man holding the sign. And when I notice a person of wealth, I see a person of worry. What am I doing in both scenarios? Judging. And in my judging I am distancing myself from my responsibility to love my neighbor as myself.

C.S. Lewis opened my eyes recently in his sermon, The Weight of Glory, which he preached in the Oxford University Church of St. Mary the Virgin on June 8, 1941. In it he describes how “glory” is not only something we receive; it is something we share. In Christ we receive His glory—brightness, splendor, luminosity. But in that reception, we also bear a weight, or responsibility, for our neighbor’s glory.

This is why we must change how we see people. We see them not based on their outward appearance but on their immortality. Lewis writes,

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. . . . There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. . . . It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours (The Weight of Glory, 45-46).

Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” And He answered with a story about a man who was in need. The Samaritan saw the immortality in the mortal body of the man robbed, beaten and left for dead (Luke 10:25-37).

The next time you notice a pauper or a princess, see that person as your neighbor who, as C. S. Lewis says, “is the holiest object presented to your senses” (idem.). Don’t think so much of your own potential glory hereafter that you fail to bear the weight of your neighbor’s glory.

Speak kindly. Act graciously. Love generously. For your neighbor is no mere mortal, but one who also “may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). And that is the glory worth sharing.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

My Pastor the Circus Ringmaster

Sometimes I think pastors, I being one of them, are more like circus ringmasters than shepherd-teachers. “Ladies and gentlemen! We are honored today to present you with the greatest show on earth! This morning you will hear elder Bob give a life-threatening presentation of the Gospel that will scare you into heaven! But wait, there’s more! You will also experience the most powerful demonstration of manipulation known to humankind to get you to serve in the nursery! And if you don’t serve, there will be flames waiting for you at the door!”

Or something like that.

I’m reminded of a story I read about a four-year old girl who loved helium balloons. For her birthday, her dad blew up about fifty balloons, which was not an easy feat. When she saw the balloons she said, “Daddy, what’s wrong with your balloons? They don’t float.” Her dad tried to convince her that his balloons were better, because you could play a game to see who could keep them in the air the longest by smacking them every time they start to come down.

She wasn’t convinced.

The only way to keep non-helium balloons in the air is by smacking them upward every few seconds. For many churchgoers, this is how they experience church. Each week the “circus-ringmaster pastor” yells something like, “Be generous!” And people put a few extra dollars in the offering plate. The following week he yells, “Witness to your friends!” And they spend a day guilted into trying to bring God into their conversations. “Volunteer at church!” And some sign a card to serve in the nursery, which lasts only until the first diaper blowout.

 D. Greear puts it this way, “Fill a balloon with helium, however, and it soars on its own. No smacking required. Fill a heart with passion for the lost, and it develops the skill of sending. No [circus-ringmaster] shouting required. What keeps us from proficiency in sending, you see, is not a lack of competency, but a lack of conviction; not a scarcity of skill, but a paucity of passion” (Gaining by Losing, 57-58).

The French poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery explained, “If you want to convince men to build ships, don’t pass out shipbuilding manuals. Don’t organize them into labor groups and hand out wood. Teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea” (paraphrase from The Wisdom of the Sands: Citadelle).

When you yearn for more of God’s presence, you don’t need a circus-ringmaster pastor smacking you every week to get you to read your Bible. When you yearn to see your friends come to know the love of Jesus, you don’t need a preacher yelling at you to evangelize.

Our problem in the church world is not that we haven’t found the right programs; we haven’t found the right passion. First yearn for the vast and endless sea, and then you will long to build ships. And no one will have to smack you or yell at you to start building.

“For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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