A theology of glory likes to ‘figure God out’ and likes to use logic to determine how things are between God and I. Don’t we often think this about those who do not seem to have God’s favor in this life? “Well, God must be trying to teach them something.” If we’re blessed and making moral improvement, we must be ‘right’ with God. And if not, the opposite must be true. But as you know, in death the rich man finds himself in hell and Lazarus is comforted in the bosom of Abraham. So can I look at my circumstances in life and tell how it is between God and I? How does God show His favor to those He loves? And how can I know if I have His favor? God hides His glory behind the weakness of the cross. And he shows His favor to us through the death and resurrection of His own son for our redemption. And I know I have His favor because I receive the gifts He has given in faith and thanksgiving. I am favored by God because of Jesus. Thus, a theology of the cross……interprets everything in my life……the blessings, the suffering, every circumstance through the perfect suffering of Christ on my behalf.
God’s ways are hidden and paradoxical:
1. God hides His glory in the mundane elements of bread and wine. Jesus has withdrawn His visible presence from the earth. He is now the hidden God and we must depend on His word to know what He is about. So when God says “Take eat, this is my body”, He is hidden, in-with-and under the bread. We don’t ‘see’ Him there and it seems impossible to me that He is there. So I must trust His very own words and find comfort in His hidden presence in His Word and sacrements.
2. He hides His glory in the weakness of a baby. When He comes to earth, He does not come in glory but in the flesh. The very incarnation of Christ is so incredible to me. How can this be? It was scandalous then and seems scandalous now and so unlike how I would have chosen to reveal myself to the world. The smallness of God in a lowly manger on a lonely night greeted by mere animals and born of the travail and sweat of childbirth. This is God? Yes, this is the very essence of the truth of God. Humbled. Lowly. With His glory hidden. To bring to us our very salvation.
3. He hides Himself in our vocation. God achieves His means of serving and taking care of us through the hiddenness of others doing their vocation. So God hides himself in : a mother making dinner for her family; a father going to work everyday to provide; a doctor using his skills and knowledge to effect healing; a teacher teaching multiplication to her students; the garbage man collecting the trash. It all ‘looks’ and ‘seems’ so mundane…..but that is God at work in the world. Serving and taking care of His people.
So we must take heed to let the theologian of glory in all of us be crucified with Christ. We must accept God’s ways as mysterious and hidden; as not yet revealed. Whether our circumstances bring us joy or suffering, our posture to God should be one of repentance. We must learn to view our lives through the lens of the cross. For in him are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:3) He will come in glory someday and we await that day with great anticipation. But until then, He has hidden Himself in things that might seem ordinary and even mysterious to us: words, water, bread and wine.
The ‘hidden’ God is hidden in Christ….come to us in the flesh to bear our sin and be our Savior and who says “I am the way, the Truth and the life and no man comes to the Father except through Me.”
Much of what goes on in modern Christianity seems very Christ-less; alot about ‘me’ instead of Christ ‘for me’. We are favored by God because of Christ alone.
Work in progress says
Loved your post! So deep, true and good. I especially loved, "God hides His glory behind the weakness of the cross." Thanks for the post.
Mrs. Dunbar says
You are so right on in Christ hiding himself in vocation. Every time I am wiping a poopy bottom or a dirt covered face, I am so humbled because I know it's because of the love from our Father that these tasks mean something.
Runner Mom says
This post was amazing! Tons to ponder and pray about. Thanks so much!!
Love this post! Have you read "The Fire and the Staff" on Lutheran theology? It's a great book worth reading. V.