For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.
Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen (Romans 1:20-25).
There’s an old song sung in many church contexts that begins like this: “To God be the glory, great things He hath done…”
Of course God deserves the glory. He’s the Initiator and Sustainer of all things, so He should get the credit He deserves. And in a sense, that’s what glory is: It’s recognition. Honor. Respect.
It’s no wonder, then, that the pages of Scripture are replete with acknowledgments of the glory of God and exhortations to engage in the business of glorifying Him. The glory of God is the second half of the song of the Seraphim in Isaiah 6: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth.” The writings of prophets like Habakkuk reveal a longing for the world to be filled with the glory of the Lord (Habakkuk 3:2). We see God’s refusal to share His glory or praise with the likes of idols in passages like Isaiah 42:8. In fact, the glory of the Lord was a tangible reality in certain sections of the Old Testament.
God’s glory was like a white-hot, consuming fire on top of the mountain when the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24:17). Moses was hidden in the cleft of a rock as the glory of the Lord passed by Him (Exodus 33:22). And the glory of the Lord consumed the sacrifice and filled the tabernacle when it was completed (Leviticus 9:23-24).
But oh Lord, deliver me from manufactured glory. This is what we see. It’s what we breathe. It’s all around us. We see it in athletes, in artists, in politicians, and in our own hearts – it’s our willful search to have that for ourselves which is only rightly attributable to God. It is the pale light of a LED bulb compared to the glow of the sun. And in the verses above from the Book of Romans, we find the truth about this manufactured glory:
1. It is made by human hands.
The glory of God is from His immortal being; manufactured glory is just that – manufactured. It’s made by our own hands. There is a great irony in these verses, for in our sin, we refuse to recognize the true intrinsic value of God and instead insist on placing what is rightfully due to Him on things of our own making.
2. It is, ultimately, a lie.
We could name any action, person, structure, artistic expression, or anything else on or off the planet, and if we were honest, we would be forced to recognize God as the source. It’s true that there are great painters and song-writers, but God is the One who endowed them with their gifts. It’s true that there are marvelous architects and mavens of business, but it’s God who gave them their resources. It’s true that there are athletes with incredible physical prowess, but it’s God who puts spring in their step. Even the atheist who curses the name of God as a fabrication and crutch for the weak-minded only does so with the breath God Himself puts in his lungs on a moment-by-moment basis.
3. It results in misplaced affection.
That is the end result. We find our affection where we find glory. So when we glory in the manufactured, we find our affections misplaced in all kinds of idolatry. Our hearts malfunction and we come to love and desire that which is eternally undesirable.
And here we have a great caution, friends, for our hearts were made to glorify something. We will find an object for that worship and affection, and because we will, we must make it our business to steer ourselves away from that which is manufactured. We must make it our goal to each day speak to our souls and say, “Take the LED light. Give me the sun.”