7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! 12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. (2 Corinthians 3:7-12 NIV)
What is glory? The literal definition is radiance, brightness, splendor – a sight like no other.
Have you ever experienced glory as Paul describes it? I think this is what we are trying to convey when we tell people that something will blow their socks off. The concept of glory is almost impossible to define. It is one of those things that must be experienced. We can talk about it when we have had a shared experience. Paul experienced glory on the road to Damascus and it blinded him for three days. That experience convinced him that the ministry of the Spirit was far superior to the ministry of the Law he had championed all his life.
I love to read, and this sometimes brings me to a new insight that provides a brief glimpse of God’s glory. More often, what I am reading shifts my attention to me and the experience of God’s glory is lost as I look for ways to apply the new idea. Paul would certainly encourage us to read and study God’s Word to encourage us to grow. More than that he wants us to pursue life in the Spirit.
What is life in the Spirit? When I was growing up a popular interpretation of life in the Spirit was spending time every day in the Bible. The Holy Spirit was the Bible and Bible study was how a person connected with the Spirit. I am now convinced that the Holy Spirit is a person who I can have a relationship with.
I wish this were as easy as getting a text message, email, or phone call. How do I know when I am being guided by the Spirit? When I am connected to God through His Spirit, I should experience glory. I should experience something radiant that results in praise from me to God. There will be nothing cold or dark in this experience. There will be nothing that will push me away and leave me with regret and a reluctance to repeat the experience. Instead, I should be drawn to get closer to God to experience even more of His glory.
I am a visual person and it would be reasonable to think that my experience of God’s glory would be tied to something that comes to me through my eyes, but that is not the case. I am not a musician. I can barely carry a tune and only under the right circumstances. Yet, the times I have felt most connected to God’s glory have been when I have been surrounded by God’s people giving praise in song. What I experience on these rare occasions is impossible to describe and it only lasts a moment. If you have ever had a “mountain top” experience, there is a good possibility that it was a taste of God’s glory.
Paul’s desire is that we would experience something far beyond this. He wants us to be so aware of the Spirit that we are surrounded by God’s glory all the time. What we experience of God’s glory here on earth gives us confidence that God is real and that His promises are true. We view the circumstances through God’s glory and that gives us hope. That hope should make us bold, so that those around us can experience God’s glory shining through us.
For a further exploration of the concept of glory, check out this blog. I found it extremely helpful.