“Grace and Glory”
4 January 2004
Texts: John 1:14-17 & 2 Peter 1:2-4
Perhaps you have watched Judy Garland’s famous performance as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” Even if you haven’t, what I want to draw our attention to is that central to the play’s action is the foursome of which she a part. The others are the scarecrow, the tin man and the lion. These three are noteworthy because they are on a quest and are going to see the wizard because of some perceived deficiency in themselves: in order they are seeking a brain, a heart and courage. Dorothy is also on a quest: she is looking for personal integration--and going home is a symbol for personal resolution, for the integration of those parts of her personality--such as her head and heart-- which have been blown apart by the very cyclone that tossed her into the bizarre world of Oz. You would be hard pressed to fin a more modern, 20th century piece of psychodrama. But I bring up “The Wizard of Oz” because of a very important lesson implied in the story: we are multifaceted creatures. Furthermore, we need balance in our personality between our tendencies to be either head strong, or feeling based. For instance, is truth content based, or is it a felt entity? Is something true because it accords with your feelings, or is it true in spite of feelings? Can we know anything? And how do we know we know something? Now the answer from Oz is that it is only when these properties of being, head, heart and the courage to be, are fully integrated that we experience wholeness, personal integrity--what the Old Testament refers to as “shalom” and the New Testament calls “the peace that passes understanding,” or “the peace of Christ.”
When Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” he was attempting to rescue us from being too headstrong for our own good--too logical, rational or cognitively disposed. Yes, we know that God is truth. Scripture reveals it to be so. However, this is not all that Scripture reveals. God is also known as spirit and love. These are essential and intrinsic properties of God alongside eternity, omnipotence and omnipresence, holiness, justice purity and dominion. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all life and everything exists for His glory and His Good pleasure.
But I want to draw your attention to one perfectly splendid divine self-disclosure. It is found in Genesis 1: 2-3: And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Gen 1:3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. The first generative act of God is the creation of light, the creation of a likeness of His very own glory. This is not natural light, but true light. This is what is referred to in John 3:19ff.
John 3:19 "And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. John 3:20 "For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. John 3:21 "But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."
But the light, the likeness of His glory, has been in Creation from the beginning. It is the sign of the radiance of His Being. Light, and truth and glory are all tied together in the first chapter of John. Jesus is even called the true light who was coming into the world--to signify that He possessed the same glory as the Father and life, truth, grace, glory--all light. Thus truth escapes the prison of mentalist--truth is more than what we make of it. Our feeble understandings, which are ever being transcended, can only approximate the truth--glory, on the other hand, has more of His appearing tied to it. We “see” and we “behold” it but we do not presume to understand it. The grace, truth and glory of God are revealed categories of religious experience which language can describe only incompletely and poorly. The words themselves communicate without confining.