I was driving over a bridge into Portland today. I looked east and saw the bottom of Mt. Hood covered in snow. The Columbia River flowed with a melodic rhythm. I saw the majestic frame of the Columbia River Gorge and the presence of green trees all around. The city scape was perfectly covered with clouds while drops of rain raced to hit the windshield of my car. It was pristine. It was perfect.
I immediately thought about the reputation of the city. People in Portland are known for being tree huggers and earthy types. They are known for being the kind of people who worship nature. And let me tell you, I get it. I get why they would worship nature. It is beautiful here, stunning actually. There is a mystery to this part of the country that takes one’s breath away, while its majesty leaves a whisper in your being.
I couldn’t get this image out of my mind. Yes! Of course people worship nature in this place. They worship nature because the nature reveals the glory of God. It is the glory of God revealed through His creation. So they really aren’t that far off from worshipping the Creator. They’ve just missed the point. They worship the glory revealed instead of the one who actually holds, creates, reveals and embodies glory.
God is glory. Period. He is majesty. He is beauty. He is perfection. And He continually gives away who He is. Not to the detriment of self, but because it is His nature. He makes all things new. He makes things breathtaking, because He himself is breathtaking.
This made me think of a very well written piece of music, performed to perfection by an other or a really well written screen play, acted out by many. The glory often goes to the performer, not to the actual creator. The creator is satisfied with the creation and celebrates in the creation being played out or performed with great skill. He knows the secret, He created what was being worshipped. I bet there is sadness when the creator goes unnoticed. When the actor gets all of the glory and praise and the one who wrote the part, goes unnoticed.
When we see created works played out before us, we have a choice, to be moved by the performance and worship those who skillfully played out what was created or to see two glories; first we recognize the mastery of the creator and then notice the skill of those who take the creation and obediently perform the parts written.
It seems funny to me, almost ironic that God wants to share His glory. Why would the Creator want to share His glory? Every created thing speaks completely of His character, God is glorious. And at the very same time the creation itself reveals so much glory that it can be confused for the source of glory. As Jesus prays to God the Father in John 17 for all believers He says, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one.” Jesus was given glory from the Father and He gives us that same glory.
We confuse glory and beauty and majesty for things of this world all of the time. We worship performances of individuals, we crave beauty, we hope for personal glory and we miss the point. All glory goes to God. It is given by God and He shares it with us. It’s like He just keeps giving Himself away, over and over and over. And we keep missing the point, over and over and over.
So here I sit in Oregon, amazed by it’s beauty and awestruck by the glory of God revealed and I wonder when those around me will take note, that the creation is glory shared, glory given and glory revealed, not glory in and of itself.