Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!
Luke 2:14 (ESV)
“Let God have all the glory, so we may have the peace.” The English Puritan John Trapp wrote that 400 years ago. I cannot possibly say it better. It is so good I devote this Advent* Week 2 peace post to it.
Glory & Peace Together
To have peace, we must keep together what the angels kept together: glory to God, peace to us. We can’t separate our peace—with God, with others and with ourselves—with our giving God glory.
The angels who announced Christ’s birth weren’t the first to make the connection between God’s glory celebrated and our peace, our shalom—our health, rest and well being. It goes way back.
Explicit connections between God’s glory and our peace go at least back to Psalm 85:8-9, probably 500 years before Incarnate Glory came to dwell among man.
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.
Psalm 85:8-9 (ESV)
Biblical shalom peace includes the idea of wholeness or well-being. Peace is what God speaks to his people. As Derek Kidner explains, “what God speaks He also creates” (cf. Isaiah 57:18ff). He speaks peace, he creates peace. He creates peace by sending Christ, who “is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). When we see “the glory of God in the face of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 4:6) we have peace.
Glory and peace was God’s plan all along. Hundreds of years before before the angels announced glory and peace in Bethlehem’s sky, he said through the prophet Haggai (2:7, 9): “I will fill this house with glory … and in this place will I give peace.”
God’s glory and our peace cannot be separated. If I have no interest in God’s glory, I will not enjoy his peace. Know God’s glory, know his peace.
But natural me is a glory thief.
I can the suck the air right out of a room.
I can dance in the spotlight and control the show. Mom warned me about that growing up. Give others have a chance, she urged. When I don’t keep in step with the Spirit, I am focused on myself, my knowledge, my charisma. Me.
At those times, I’m a glory thief. An ugly, restless, glory thief.
Paul David Tripp memorably explains how sin turns us into glory thieves.
The original design was for human beings to live in a glorious world and exist in perfect relational harmony with a glorious God. But sin corrupted the original design, and now you and I have the desire to live for ourselves (see 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Instead of living for the glory of God, we try to steal that glory for ourselves.
We demand to be in the center of our world. We take credit for what only God could produce. We want to be sovereign. We want others to worship us. We establish our own kingdom and punish those who break our laws. We tell ourselves that we’re entitled to what we don’t deserve, and we complain when we don’t get whatever it is that we want. It’s a glory disaster.Paul David Tripp, “The Doctrine of Glory“
I can attest. When I live like a glory thief, others must be on time but not a minute early, but they must be content to wait patiently for me. Glory thief me wants readers to adore my words, to follow me, and to keep my kingdom rules—rinse your dishes and say thank you—or face my wrath.
Meet Abigail the glory thief, the glory disaster, and peace-deprived me.
God’s Peaceful Purpose
It just so happens that God knew all about that. He was light years ahead of restless and ornery little glory-thieving creatures like you and like me. So in the fullness of time, he sent forth a Son.
Because Abigail and her ilk need to give glory to God in the highest to experience peace on earth.
As John Piper put it, God’s purpose is to give us peace by being the most glorious Person in our lives. He does not mean to give us peace apart from himself.
He will be our peace by being our God. What this means is that the peace of God, or the peace of Christ, can never be separated from God himself and Christ himself. If we want peace to rule in our lives, God must rule in our lives. Christ must rule in our lives…His purpose is to give you peace by being the most glorious Person in your life.
The key to peace is keeping together what the angels keep together: Glory to God, and peace to man. A heart bent on showing the glory of God will know the peace of God.John Piper, “A Savior Is Born: Glory to God, Peace to Man”
How does a heart bent on showing God’s glory look?
Celebrate The Child Who Is Our Peace
It looks like Anna and Simeon thanking God and the shepherds making haste to see the Lord’s salvation. It looks like you singing carols of praise and fighting for joy and dwelling in his word, like Mary sitting at his feet.
Whatever else it looks like it must include wonder at a child who would save us from our sins.
As my friend Cara Ray wrote,
And I am here to testify. That fall-on-your-face, or stand-with-hands-raised, wonder brings peace. It comes as I am freed from the tyranny of me, released from my slavery to human praise, and freed to serve him without fear all my days.
Peter, another former glory thief, had learned this unbreakable link. I see it in his words in Acts 10:36 (NIV): You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
Did you see it? Peace through Jesus Christ, and glory to Him.
Peter didn’t use the word “glory.” But it’s there.
For Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
*In case you missed the first of four Advent Week posts, you can catch it here.