Seeing the Weight of Glory
II Corinthians 5:14-17
“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and he died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
C.S. Lewis ~ closing of the sermon entitled The Weight of Glory
“Meanwhile the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning. A cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world, and we are invited to follow our great Captain inside. The following Him is, of course, the essential point. That being so, it may be asked what practical use there is in the speculations which I have been indulging. I can think of at least one such use. It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the back of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror or corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and there is to ours as the lift of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and a costly love, with deep feelings for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner – no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor, he is holy almost in the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat – the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”
Would it change the way we treat people around us if we realized that we walk among immortals, those destined for unspeakable glory or unimaginable horror? It is very interesting that I came across this passage of Scripture and this sermon on the same day. If I had not read them together, I likely would not have come to the question and this point on which I now write.
All my learning as of late has made many things clear to me…
First, in our society, we are prone to look only on outward appearance, failing completely to recognize the handiwork of each human life. We minimize the inherent value of those we interact with viewing our own gain and glory as paramount.
Second, I have begun to recognize the eternality of the human soul. We were created as immortal beings. We remain immortal beings. Although we are trapped by mortal flesh in the present, no soul ceases to exist after the body dies. The only unknown remaining is whether that soul will continue on to eternal glory with the Almighty or unending damnation and separation from the One mankind was designed to glorify.
Lastly, I recognize how quick those who claim the name of Christ are to write people off and to seal the enemy’s letter of decrees against them. It is evidence of personal dishonesty among Christ followers, failing to accurately judge the condition of their own hearts. It is symptomatic of pride and arrogance in our position in Christ. It demonstrates our rebellious desire to gain equality with God, the original sin (Genesis 3:5), even after observing the devastating impacts of sin on the world. Grace and mercy are not stocks to be traded, sold or bought. No, they are gifts freely given by Love Himself. Freely.
Do we so quickly forget the vileness and sinfulness of our hearts, the death we were trapped in before we were in Christ?
Here we look to Paul’s instruction and admonishment.
What controlled those who labored tirelessly and endlessly for the salvation of the Gentiles? Was it judgment or compassion? Was it condemnation or love? Are these things that we view as opposite’s event directly opposed to each other? Or do we see them displayed in an unfathomable harmony in the life of Christ?
Jesus judged the sinfulness of those whom He spent His time with. He knew their spiritual condition and as a result had incredible compassion for them. They were the outcasts, the lowlifes, the condemned, the discarded, the “sinners.” He was quick to condemn the sinfulness of their actions and yet His great love drove Him to die that they might gain forgiveness. Ultimately, Jesus was moved by love, a love that would rather die for another man than to see Him perish.
Back to Paul’s declaration that he and his fellow workers were controlled by the love of Christ (v. 14). He recognized that in Christ’s death, the invitation was extended to all of humanity to die. Christ carried upon Himself the sin and filthiness of mankind to the grave. Therefore, every person around us trapped in the deadness of sin has the ability to die to that death by placing their faith in Christ. Ultimately, Christ’s death purchases life for every man. So that is why we no longer live for ourselves, because Christ’s life dwells in us and takes control.
We are so quick to recognize people according to their flesh and sinfulness not realizing that Christ purchased life for them just as much as us. They may be trapped in disobedience, separated from God, yet Christ beckons them to come and die so that they may enter into His life. They have been extended the offer to enter into Christ and become a new creation.
Why then do we swiftly judge the sinner to be “not good enough” for the glory of Christ?
Were they not designed for this glory?
It is not our place to either condemn or atone for others. However, we do have the opportunity on a daily basis to live out the death and, most gloriously, the life of Christ so that we become intercessors on their behalf. C.S. Lewis wisely points out that every man and woman bears the weight of Glory, God’s glory, being designed in the very image of God. In humility, we must support each other as we enter into Christ and accurately learn to depict His glory. We must cease to devalue, defraud, and depreciate one another for in doing so we belittle the very glory and image of the living God. No one among us is ordinary for we were all designed to point to the Creator.
Stop looking at outward appearances and judging according to the systems and principles of this world. It is foolish and scorns the sacrifice of the Savior. The Weight of Glory belongs entirely to Him. We as immortal beings have simply been given the honor and privilege to bear it with Him…