Pastor-scholar Gregory Boyd defines the glory of God as: “the radiant display of the divine nature.” So, if that is the case, then where would one expect to encounter that ‘radiant display’? A text from Ephesians 3:21 gives us a fascinating answer: it says that God is glorified “in the church and in Christ Jesus.” Those two sources, mind you, are inextricably connected. You see, the very word church is a word that the New Testament employs to speak of those individuals who are called-out (ek-klesia) to be God’s new creation, to be inhabited and recreated by his Spirit, …so that even as Jesus Christ is the glory of God in all the dimensions of his life and work, even so, that glory is to inhabit all of those who compose the community of his new humanity, which is the church.

Next question: Where do we observe that glory? Where are we to encounter it? Again, the apostle tells us (II Corinthians 2:15) that the church is to be the “sweet aroma of Christ unto God.” That tells those of us who profess our faith in Jesus, and have received him into our lives, … that we are to be where the society is to be able to witness the glory of God in flesh and blood. This is to be true, not only when the church is gathered together for worship with others who embrace him, …but perhaps even more so when the church is scattered into the “Monday morning world” where there are all of those who are still outside of Christ who need to have flesh and blood examples of the glory of God, of the strength and sweetness of Christ.

I am blessed with a very vital Christian community formed by very rich Biblical teaching. It is also a church community that meets in a store-front gathering place, and is, for the most part, very casual in dress, … which brings me back to the title of this blog. That guy in front of me in cargo shorts is called to be the glory of God, and “the radiant display of the divine nature”. So is the woman in the fashionable dress (or Levi’s), and all of the other “called-out” persons who make-up the church.

This is to reiterate that the church is not a place but is composed of the persons who make up God’s new humanity—who do come together in smaller community groups for worship and mutual encouragement, but who live primarily in homes and neighborhood and classrooms, and in offices, and in many unexpected places, such as mass transit, airline seats, and jogging routes.

We are those who need to pray daily that the fruits of the Holy Spirit (listed in Galatians 5) are incarnated in our lives so that those who live with us intimately (families), or those who meet us on the daily course of things may see the radiant display of the divine nature. This is especially important when we find ourselves in complex and conflicted situations. The greater the expressions of darkness, and the more entrenched the persons we encounter may be to the cultural darkness, … the greater the need for us to be the glory of God in all the richness of our new humanity. Like: the glory of God in cargo shorts, or in a three-piece suit, in Bermuda shorts or in a stylish dress.

This makes our weekly sojourn into the mission of God such an adventure into the empowering of the Spirit so that we become that sweet savor of Christ, not only to God, but to all whom we meet. Light in the darkness. Peace!


About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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