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The glory of God
by Reverend Howard Ray Carey

The 'glory of God' is a concept found in many parts of the Bible. It sounds great, but what does it mean? Bible scholars tell us this phrase 'is intended to denote the revelation of God's being, nature and presence' to humanity. This glory is often seen in the person of Jesus. But too often it is conceived as separate from all the rest of us. For instance, in John 1:14 we read: ''We beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father.''

We may ask whether those Bible times were too early in human evolution to discover God's glory in the faces of people everywhere. Perhaps so, since a study of different Bible passages seems to indicate a limited expression of that glory. In Psalm 29, verse 9, for instance, while it is inspiring to find that ''in his temple all cry glory,'' it is evident that separation is still implied. For outside the temple too often we find hostility and vengeance, as in Psalm 140, verses 9 and 10: ''Those who surround me lift up their heads, let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them. Let burning coals fall upon them. Let them be cast into pits, no more to rise.''

Fortunately in the New Testament this separation (between the holy place where God's glory is sensed, and the unholy world where evil was said to reign) begins to be bridged. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says, ''Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?'' '' glorify God in your body.'' (I Cor. 6:19-20)  And in II Cor. 6:16, ''For we are the temple of the living God.''

Doesn't this indicate real progress ---- from finding the glory of God only in a man-made temple to the realization that each follower of Christ is a living temple, and we are to glorify God in our bodies? Yes, but sadly enough, this inner glory is seen by Paul as a reality only in those who are of what he calls the 'household of faith'. For he goes on to advise, ''Therefore come out from them [the non-believers----HRC] and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean. Then I will welcome you.'' (II Cor. 6:17) Indeed, separatism was considered important by some biblical writers.

But once we move to the present time, we find the World Teacher saying, ''The old gives way to the new... Remove forever the curse of separation, of loneliness and fear. Take heed, My friends and do this, do this now... My Teaching will show you the future for all men, a future bathed in the Light of Living Truth.'' (Message No. 117) Using different approaches, He emphasizes time and again this ending of cleavage, ''I come to show you, My friends, that the age of cleavage ends, the time of division is passing. From now, My friends and brothers, you will witness a leavening of the climate of the world. A sweeter atmosphere of hope will enter the affairs of men, a new call for Justice will sound forth from all quarters, and in the midst of that clamor will you find Me.'' (Message No. 131)

He shows us why the time of division is passing. This is happening because He is making us aware that in reality we are all divine. As He expresses it, ''In all men sits this Divine Being... Take My hands, My friends, and let us walk blithely together into the radiant future.'' (Message No. 115) His presence assists us in thus walking together into a radiant future because He is at work, blazing the trail in ''the construction of a new world in which men can live together in peace; can live free from fear of themselves or their brothers; free to create from the joy in their hearts; free to be themselves in simple honesty.'' (Message No. 8)

His great love and wisdom is now lifting from us the stifling blanket of fear. This will open our eyes to see the glory of God in the face of a child, and in the life of our sisters and brothers everywhere. How great it is to discover that God's temple is not just a structure erected somewhere in Jerusalem, or London, or Mecca. But indeed the whole earth is His temple. Are we able to see that we are fast approaching a time when everything in the temple of planet earth will cry, ''Glory, glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men''?

This article is a chapter from The Joy of Christ's Coming This book by the late Rev. Howard Ray Carey was published by Share International Foundation in 1988. It is not currently available in hard copy form. Copyright © Share International Foundation.  Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard version unless otherwise indicated. 

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005