My Great-Grandmother’s house had a chandelier that had prisms dangling from its curved arms. I loved watching the display on the carpet and walls of dancing sparkles of light and color. Unable to catch the full radiance of the sun, these beautiful bits of glass were wonderful reflectors and refractors of it.
We, too, are unable to capture the full radiance of God’s glory – no one can see it and live. Yet we are called to glorify God and display it to those around us. I wonder, then, if those little prisms might be good examples. Lovely works in and of themselves, prisms can be appreciated for the angles, cuts, shapes and sizes that they come in. But if that’s all we ever know of a prism, it’s pretty unimpressive. Prisms are best appreciated when they reflect and refract the dazzling brilliance of the sunlight. We can’t look directly at the sun, but when a prism does its work, the resulting beauty can be fully taken in.
Many of us are reminded on a regular basis to give glory to God or to glorify God in all we do. But I have to confess that there have been many times when I wondered what does it mean when people say we ought to “give God glory”? What’s behind the admonition to “glorify God in all you do”?
Glory, splendor, grandeur, radiance – these are not qualities I possess. How can I give them to God? The Bible talks about glorifying God in death, in our bodies – in all that we do! But what does it mean?
John Piper has been enormously helpful to me in this. He’s famous for the phrase, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” Think about the double-sided blessing that that is. We do what we ought to do (glorify God) when we are most satisfied in him (content, happily doing what he knit us together and put us on the face of the earth to do). That is a kind God.
We glorify God when we live in the grace and peace of the Gospel each and every hour. We glorify God when that really can’t help but spill over into the lives around us (who doesn’t crave what a peaceful person has??). We glorify God when our work is joyfully embarked upon because we know whether it’s a grand task or a small chore He’s given it to us to do and to do well.
Impressive global projects, demanding corporate negotiations, small business marketing or cutting tiny toenails or making peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches – all glorify God when done by the one who was meant and sent to do them by the One who created them for the task. When we do what God created us to do we are content and satisfied. When we are satisfied in what God has given us, done for us, provided for us – we glorify Him.
Have you seen dancing crystals that gleam and glimmer radiant light? Have you seen the light revealed as rainbows of beauty? That’s what we are to be – prisms of God’s glory back to Himself and also to the world around us. No one can see God’s glory and live. But we can all see the reflected, refracted glory that brilliantly shines as it works through His people.
I want to be a prism of Glory – a radiant reminder of a brilliance we cannot completely understand or behold, but one that is worthy of all our efforts.