As we looked at 1 Peter 1:1-12 together yesterday there was some surprise at part of our future inheritance as Christians being God giving praise, glory and honour to us (see v.7). But this is a much-repeated Biblical truth (Romans 2:29; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Peter 5:4) that we should not ignore – it certainly motivated the apostle Paul (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).
CS Lewis grasped this well and reflects on the implications at length in his essay The Weight of Glory. He summarises the Bible’s teaching on heaven like this:
The promises of Scripture may very roughly be reduced to five heads. It is promised, firstly, that we shall be with Christ; secondly, that we shall be like Him; thirdly, with an enormous wealth of imagery, that we shall have “glory”; fourthly, that we shall, in some sense, be fed or feasted or entertained; and, finally, that we shall have some sort of official position in the universe – ruling cities, judging angels, being pillars of God’s temple.
As initially surprised as we were by talk of us receiving glory from God, he did some research:
When I began to look into this matter I was shocked to find such different Christians as Milton, Johnson and Thomas Aquinas taking heavenly glory quite frankly in the sense of fame or good report. But not fame conferred by our fellow creatures – fame with God, approval or (I might say) “appreciation” by God. And then, when I had thought it over, I saw that this view was scriptural; nothing can eliminate from the parable the divine accolade, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” With that, a good deal of what I thinking all my life fell down like a house of cards. I suddenly remembered that no one can enter heaven except as a child; and nothing is so obvious in a child – not in a conceited child, but in a good child – as its great and undisguised pleasure in being praised. Not only in a child either, but even in a dog or a horse. Apparently what I had mistaken for humility had, all these years, prevented me from understanding what is in fact the humblest, the most childlike, the most creaturely of pleasures – nay, the specific pleasure of the inferior: the pleasure of a beast before men, a child before its father, a pupil before his teacher, a creature before its Creator.
The discovery of the truth of this led him to marvel:
The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive the examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in his son – it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory, which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.
If you have any questions about this do catch me next Sunday.