The Glory of Being Loved and Known by God

My finger hovered over the screen as I read and scrolled, the words landing like lead in my stomach. A friend had simply reported the facts:  “Try this!” she chirped, her heart pure, meaning only to encourage. “It worked for me! I’ve had 300 responses in just a few hours!”

I darkened the screen with a sniff and a tiny eye roll (just for good measure), because three-digit responses just don’t happen in my world. In fact, the math of social media leaves me with more questions than solutions, and the presiding symbol in the equation always feels like “less than.” When I fall into the trap of comparing myself to the gifted, the scintillating, and the accomplished, I can be sure that the spirit of scarcity won’t be far behind, sucking dry my confidence and leaving my faith parched and brittle.

“Less than” – the phrase clamors for my attention even through the darkened screen, but I will not give it entry to my soul. I will fight the lie with reassurance tucked into Paul’s letter to believers in Corinth. Whom we know, how much we know, or how well we are known by the-names-that-matter is all secondary to this one truth:

“But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”  (I Corinthians 8:3 ESV)

Hear the Word of the Lord, O my soul!

I may not be “known” by thousands, but I am known by God, and this is the most compelling feature on my resume. God’s face is turned toward me with joy and welcome– with a love that is present and powerful. While I’m all the time imagining a closed door and cramped quarters, God has envisioned and provided for wide open access, and my feet are standing on the place of grace.

In his classic essay “The Weight of Glory,” C.S. Lewis describes this “good report with God” using one word:  “Glory!”  The promise of acceptance into the heart of God comes with His approval, and Lewis concludes:  “How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. (38) To please God . . . to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness . . . to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”  (39)

So it is. God’s ponderous glory is a weighty counterbalance to past lies or present disappointments. And when I try to do life according to any other equation, I’m making deposits to an account that is continually overdrawn.

Responding to the Weight of Glory

Because of weighty truth, I am no longer the girl who feared scarcity, inspired by a worried President Ford wearing his sweater on T.V. and telling us to turn down our thermostats because there most certainly was not enough oil to fuel our future.
God’s delight in me has filled up the empty spaces in my heart that corresponded to the empty spaces in my growing-up refrigerator—the ones that stood in stark contrast with the steady supply of vodka bottles hidden in the trunk of the ’72 Plymouth.

It’s likely your own road map shows a few desolate places in the itinerary up to this point, a record of the journey through days when security and abundance seemed to be a thousand miles away as you slogged through debt or disappointment or confusion. Whatever its origin, the only lasting corrective to a less-than mentality is an abundant approval that will endure. The only potent antidote to its poison is the weighty security of a welcome from the One with whom your heart is absolutely safe.

Therefore, with my longing to be acknowledged lavishly met, I receive (with gratitude!) the gift of self-forgetfulness. The script of my life can switch from, “Here I am!” to “There YOU are!” as I celebrate the accomplishments of my sisters in Christ and come alongside them to help them lean into their unique callings. Best of all, liberated from the need to be center stage, I can lift my eyes and be astounded by the glory of God where everything begins and ends.

Beholding His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,

Michele Morin

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Where Wrath and Love Run Wild

If you Google the phrase “balanced Christian life,” you will find over 2 million results in the blink of an eye. Books, magazines, and sermons will rush to your aid in calibrating the conflicting priorities that characterize this following life. It was no surprise that G.K. Chesterton’s thoughts from Chapter 6 of Orthodoxy were not among the first wave of responses, and that’s likely because he found not balance, but conflict to be the chief virtue of the Christian life.

Theologically, we’re all accustomed to paradox. God’s great rescue plan involved becoming a man while remaining fully God; we live by faith, all the while knowing that works are the evidence of that faith; and we accept the truth that, somehow, God’s foreknowledge does not diminish by one whit my freedom to act according to my own will.  It turns out that making peace with paradox at the theological level is a helpful skill in actually living the “balanced Christian life,” because Christianity finds its balance in the combination of “furious opposites.”  (143)

I invite you to a few moments’ pondering and delight in three “furious opposites” from Chesterton’s viewpoint, and then, from the biblical record:

1. Dignity and Humility

“In so far as I am Man I am the chief of creatures.
In so far as I am a man I am the chief of sinners.”  (142)

“The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”   (Zephaniah 3:17)

 “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

2. Wrath and Love

“We must be much more angry with theft than before, and yet much kinder to thieves than before. There was room for wrath and love to run wild. And the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.” (144)

“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:29,30)

“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21,22)

3. Meekness and Madness

“By defining its main doctrine, the Church not only kept seemingly inconsistent things side by side, but, what was more, allowed them to break out in a sort of artistic violence otherwise possible only to anarchists. . . Historic Christianity rose into a high and strange coup de théatre of morality–things that are to virtue what the crimes of Nero are to vice.” (145)

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

The Angle at which We Stand

In our 21st century quest for balance, it’s no wonder we’re knocked off our feet by the demands of a Lamb/Lion God, a Deity “slain from the foundation of the world” who has still retained “His royal ferocity.” And so we teeter first on one foot, and then the other as we take forgiveness with thanksgiving only to sin again within the hour. We recoil in horror over pornography and materialism, and we shed tears over child abuse and human trafficking, and then turn unsteadily to offer the peace of Christ and the welcome of the gospel to the guilty. We pray for grace to show up for the daily routines that mark a life of faithfulness and trust that these are building our faith muscles for “good things to run wild” in and through us.

Dwellers in Narnia soon encountered Aslan and learned that he “is not a tame lion.”  Dwellers of Earth are invited into “the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy” which is not “something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.”

Rejoicing with you in this perilous and exciting following life,

michele signature rose[1]

As usual, your insights on Chesterton’s writing are welcome in the comments below, and if you are also inspired to create your own blog post, be sure to share the link with us so we can continue the conversation over at your place.

This post is part six in a meandering journey through Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. If you’re just joining us, you can start here for the rationale behind this project. The journey through Orthodoxy has taken us into topics as diverse as parenting, the irony of free will, the humility of being right, and the miracle of God’s creative genius. Last month, we examined Chesterton’s thoughts on patriotism just in time for Memorial Day.

Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular content delivered to your inbox. Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging communities on a regular basis. They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week. I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.