The first time I gloried I was 18 years old, cycling down a long, hairpin-turn road in the French Alps. The road eventually leveled off in a valley, and followed a wide stream. Mike and I coasted onto the verge, got off our bikes, propped them against a fence, and stood and gazed.
For the first time in my life I felt lost in scenic beauty. Some four miles away stood a mountain. Dark purple rock slopes, half cloaked in snow (in July!). But it was the mountain’s size that made me glory. It gave new meaning to the word “immense.”
I started to laugh. Not with amusement but with joy. With amazement and a sense of being very small in the face of something very big – even majestic.
I didn’t know it, but I was glorying. I was delighting in and getting lost in something outside of myself, and way, way bigger than me. That’s what it means to glory.
The psalmists speak of glorying:
“Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!” (Ps 105:3 ESV).
“Save us, O LORD our God…that we may…glory in your praise” (Ps 106:47 ESV).
And so does the apostle Paul:
“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus…” (Phil 3:3 ESV).
Why does “glorying” matter? Because it saves us from getting off track.
The book of Philippians is, in part, Paul’s rebut to the off-centre Christian movement called the Judaizers. They claimed that believers needed to supplement faith in Christ with circumcision and the Leviticus 11 food-laws.
They failed to reckon with the seismic shift God caused when he sent Christ.
Paul’s corrective for this error? For the Philippians to glory. To gaze in wonder and delight at something outside of themselves and bigger than themselves and bigger than the latest swirling controversy. At something our struggles can never diminish. When we glory in Christ (like Mike and I gloried in that alp in 1968), good things happen. We regain perspective. Aching muscles cease to matter. Problems cease to matter: They don’t disappear, but they lose their power to smother. We breathe, we laugh, and we linger for another long look at the mountain.
And for Christians, that mountain is Christ.
Yes, of course, the road awaits. And maybe it’s uphill. But if we’re glorying in Christ, we’ll be ready.
© 2018 by Dave Perry