I met one of my college buddies at a Christian fellowship group on campus, but what we really bonded over was playing tennis most afternoons after class. One day we were talking about our faith lives, and he mentioned to me how he was able to combine playing tennis with his Christianity. Interested, I asked how he did this.
He said, “Every time I hit the ball, I say, ‘Glory to God’. It’s something I started doing in high school. At first I used to scream it from the top of my lungs. I stopped yelling it out loud after I realized people thought I was having some personal issues, but I still say it to myself quietly, and I have done it ever since.”
Well, at least it’s better than those grunts you hear from most other tennis players…
I found this idea interesting back then, and I still do today. How do we glorify God in our daily lives?
I was surprised when I looked up the term ‘glorify’ and ‘glory’ on Google, especially as an image search, and found mostly…church stuff! It’s a ‘churchy’ kind of word, right? We don’t hear it too often in other parts of our lives. Husbands, have you told your wife lately that you glorify her? No! And there’s a reason for this. If we were to define what it means to ‘glorify’ something, we basically would say that we acknowledge the holiness within it; we worship it.
…well, husbands, on second thought, maybe we should start glorifying our wives…
Many of us, like my tennis friend, have trouble when it comes to connecting the dots between such a Christian idea as what to glorify, and how to incorporate it in our daily lives.
But there’s another side to this topic as well. Maybe it’s not solely a church thing after all. If we think outside the box of what we pay tribute to; of what we worship, I’m willing to bet we are guilty of glorifying other things besides God in this world. Sports, money, possessions, our social status? What is it that we glorify, that we tend to worship in this world?
We are reading from the Gospel of John once again as we continue along our Lenten journey with Jesus to the cross…chapter 12. Here we have a series of teachings all wrapped up in one conversation by the author.
20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
Again, it’s important for us to pay close attention to how the scriptures describe the setting of a story. Here, John makes known that this Gospel is not only for the Jewish community of Jerusalem, but all people. Jesus has a universal draw.
22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
So we come to this word again. What does it mean to be glorified? Here we have the author, John, letting the readers know that this is the setting for Jesus to be identified as holy; as divine.
24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Here Jesus is speaking of the eternal, life-giving, nature of death—the circle of life.
25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Verse 25 teaches us once again the importance of not getting too attached to this world, this earthly existence, with our mortal bodies and our temporary possessions.
26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
We have heard these passages before in other Gospels, if we want to follow Jesus, we must become servants.
27“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say — ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.
Jesus is troubled, but understands his role….even if it means death. Our author, John, reminds us that this coming experience of the cross, what we call the Passion, is all part of a much larger narrative of God’s activity in the world.
28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
And with these words, Jesus directs the glory to God, as we all should in all of our lives.
In verse 28 we hear God’s voice again as we have before in other accounts, meaning that this a holy event. One story that we are immediately reminded of is the baptism of Jesus, with God’s voice formally introducing Christ to the world. Now God’s voice is heard again; the eternal connection between life and death, baptism and the Lord’s Supper which we will read of in the next chapter, is made clear.
29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine.
In verse 30 the author speaks through the words of Jesus: This voice of God was for us, the readers. Do we believe it?
31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world (Satan) will be driven out.
32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
Here we read that Jesus will be lifted up to heaven, just as the readers would have been reminded of his entry to this story from heaven in John chapter 1. The people of God will be drawn away from this earthly reality (Satan’s domain) to be with God, as Christ alludes to this coming death on the cross.
‘Glorify your name.’ How are we to glorify God in our lives today?
The Good News is this: We are called to glorify our daily existence; to give thanks to God in all circumstances and to make known that our very lives are holy miracles. When we glorify, we literally give glory to God; we acknowledge the holiness of our creator.
- So what can this look like? It starts with God! When we wake up in the morning and give thanks for another day filled with our many earthly blessings, we rightly attribute credit where credit is due; not to our wonderful abilities or our 401ks, but to God, our creator, who blesses us each day with life.
- We give glory to God by acknowledging the God-created holiness in others. When we look our family, friends, and loved ones in the eyes and let them know how thankful we are for them, we give glory to God for the heavenly gift of relationships.
- We glorify God in our calling. When we listen for God’s movement within our life’s roles just as Jesus did, we glorify God.
- When we gather here as the church, as Valley Community, and sing, and we pray, and we smile together…when we mourn, and we weep, and we embrace one another together as Christian community…we give glory to God.
Friends, we worship a God who uniquely is in our daily lives. The life, ministry, and even public death of Jesus demonstrates God’s yearning to be with us during our good days and bad, successes and failures, celebrations and times of sadness.
In all of this we praise God. That’s what glorifying God in this world today looks like; that we are able to acknowledge the sacred in all of life’s circumstances. We are holy beings made in the image of our creator. We walk on holy ground. What a miracle each and every day of life on this earth is! And what a miracle life in eternity will be with our creator, and all other heavenly, holy, beings that we have come to know and love during our quick time on this planet.
May we go out into the world giving glory to God in all circumstances; sometimes whispering it under our breaths, other times yelling it from the top of our lungs!