The glory of God

Why did God create the universe, and human beings in it?

A common christian answer is that he did it for his glory. But I’m not so sure.

Give glory to God

The dictionary defines glory as: “high renown or honour won by notable achievements …. magnificence or great beauty”. So we can easily see that God is glorious, and we should recognise that.

So we can understand why the Bible authors, especially in the Psalms, urge us to give glory to God. If you Google “glory of God” you’ll find scores of passages. It is foolish blindness for us not to recognise who God is and so receive from him all we so definitely need.

That all makes sense.

But why does God want to receive glory?

This is where it gets tricky. If a human being’s main aim was to get glory for themselves, we’d think they were an egotist, someone desperate for attention. So does anyone really think God is like that?

And would God gain any more glory if I praised him? Surely he is glorious enough already?

The only reason why I think why God would want me to glorify him is for MY sake, so that I gain from knowing him and relating to him more closely. So does that mean it is all about me?

God is love?

The Bible says God is loving, gracious, merciful. So much so that it says that he IS love (1 John 4:8). That chapter of 1 John assures us again and again that God loves us, and John 3:16 assures us that God loves the entire world.

Paul describes the sort of love that God has for us, and he wants us to have for him and for other people, in 1 Corinthians 13 and Romans 12:9-21, and it is a very self giving sort of love. It looks out for the needs of others, looks for the best in people and expresses itself in practical actions of service.

If God is that sort of love, then he isn’t looking out for his own glory, he is caring for us, his creation. The universe is God’s, but he is pleased to make at least a small part of the story of the universe about me …. and you …. and everyone else.

God created us to love us!

I reckon that’s why God created us. Not so that he’d display his glory, although that should happen, but so he can give expression to his love. So he can give us the ultimate gift of life, freedom and the ability to receive and give love.

And that gives God greater glory than if he had set out to impress.

God, by William Blake, Public Domain, Wikipedia.

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13 thoughts on “The glory of God

  1. westofthebluemountains says:

    Would it be correct to think of God as our “parent”, or is that too simplistic ?

    And if God is a parent then we would expect to inherit his own qualities of goodness and love which we do have in some measure but there is a lot of evil in the world as well. Where did this come from ?

    Could God be thought of as “creator” is the sense of a reality game where he designs the traits and qualities that his characters can have without being directly connected to them and then lets random chance distribute those characteristics on individuals ? If God is the ultimate good, why would he design evil ?

    And why bother creating all the other forms of life as well, that could not hope to conceive whether a God existed or not ?

    Too many questions here for a simplistic answer I believe.

    Mere mortals trying to determine the mind of God would seem like a futile task.

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  2. unkleE says:

    Hi, here’s my answers to your questions, for what they’re worth.

    “Would it be correct to think of God as our “parent”, or is that too simplistic ?
    That’s certainly a christian view. Provided we don’t think our parent is God.

    “there is a lot of evil in the world as well. Where did this come from ?”
    The conventional christian view is it came from the devil, but that just puts the question back to how he became evil. I think whenever two autonomous beings exist, they have choices about whether they compete or cooperate, whether they seek an advantage for themselves. That’s where most evil comes from.

    ” If God is the ultimate good, why would he design evil ?”
    I don’t think he did. I think it’s impossible to have freely choosing humans and not have the possibility of evil. So it’s either no evil and no humans, or some humans and some evil.

    “And why bother creating all the other forms of life as well, that could not hope to conceive whether a God existed or not ?”
    Why not? Seems like fun. And also a necessary part of evolution.

    “Mere mortals trying to determine the mind of God would seem like a futile task.”
    I agree. As a christian, I believe we have a revelation, in the Bible, in Jesus, in creation and in our own minds, and we have to work it out from there. Fortunately, some of these questions are not necessary for life or for knowing God.

    What do you think?

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  3. westofthebluemountains says:

    There are a lot of questions there.

    I think whenever two autonomous beings exist, they have choices about whether they compete or cooperate, whether they seek an advantage for themselves. That’s where most evil comes from.

    So the devil has always existed in competition with God ? That means God is not all powerful otherwise he would have defeated the devil before he created the Universe. It doesn’t seem satisfactory that we are being asked to pray to a deficient power. If evil is predominant on earth, should we pray to the devil as he is obviously more powerful ?

    That’s certainly a christian view. Provided we don’t think our parent is God.

    You see something wrong with regarding God as a spiritual parent as opposed to our physical ones ?

    So what are we talking about we we say “Holy Father” ? , and who was our “mother” ? (sorry if that’s a naive question). If God is self replicating (ie he created the human race from himself), why did he require males and females for every (I think) species on earth capable of reproduction ?

    . So it’s either no evil and no humans, or some humans and some evil.

    So even if every human on earth was Christian, evil would still exist because we are all human ?

    Why not? Seems like fun. And also a necessary part of evolution.

    Good to see that God has a sense of humour. 🙂

    I take it you believe evolution was designed by God ? If so, I agree, it seems a sensible conclusion. I wonder why the mainstream Christian church hasn’t cottoned on to this and still persist with the idea that God designed every individual creature separately. In that case of course, the human race is nothing special and could have evolved into something else given different conditions. Doesn’t this idea invalidate Genesis, and therefore the whole Christian religion because Jesus said that the Old Testament was true ?

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  4. unkleE says:

    “So the devil has always existed in competition with God ?”
    I don’t think so. Many (though not most) christians believe the devil is just metaphorical, but I think probably there are evil spiritual beings, who had choice the same way we do, and stuffed up the same way we have. I think God gives those beings freedom just like he gives us, because he chose to give life, but it is possible they don’t exist.

    “You see something wrong with regarding God as a spiritual parent as opposed to our physical ones ?”
    I just meant our parents aren’t God.

    “who was our “mother” “
    God is a metaphorical father and mother.

    “why did he require males and females for every (I think) species on earth capable of reproduction”
    Why do evolutionists think genders evolved? Presumably it is a more efficient way of reproducing. And it allows love and sex (a mixed blessing!).

    “So even if every human on earth was Christian, evil would still exist because we are all human ?”
    Unfortunately, yes. But if every person on earth really tried to follow Jesus, then things would be way better.

    “I take it you believe evolution was designed by God ?”
    Yes. Or designed the laws of the universe so evolution would happen. Same thing in the end.

    “Doesn’t this idea invalidate Genesis, and therefore the whole Christian religion because Jesus said that the Old Testament was true ?”
    I don’t see how anything invalidates, just understands differently. I think Jesus changed lots of OT teachings, so while he respected the OT he wasn’t afraid to change and update things.

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  5. westofthebluemountains says:

    I don’t see how anything invalidates, just understands differently. I think Jesus changed lots of OT teachings, so while he respected the OT he wasn’t afraid to change and update things.

    So do you think that if evolution took us down the path of evolving into intelligent lizards, we would have a different Bible containing lizard stories and a lizard Jesus ?

    Or do you think God designed evolution to ensure the development of humans ?

    I don’t mean to be flippant or sarcastic. I have similar belief about God and evolution that you do, but I really don’t see how the teachings of Jesus give us much insight into the mind of God, being that evolution is so random it is hard to believe that God has a definite plan in mind for each of us personally.

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  6. westofthebluemountains says:

    I think Jesus changed lots of OT teachings, so while he respected the OT he wasn’t afraid to change and update things.

    If the truth is evolution then I wonder why Jesus did not update he OT tale of the Garden of Eden and Creation in seven days ?

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  7. unkleE says:

    “do you think God designed evolution to ensure the development of humans ?”
    I think God designed it to produce humans, maybe he even interfered with the process along the way as the Intelligent Design people say and as the evolutionary biologists don’t like. I think he could do that without compromising evolution, but I also think he probably could have set it up right at the beginning.

    “I really don’t see how the teachings of Jesus give us much insight into the mind of God, being that evolution is so random it is hard to believe that God has a definite plan in mind for each of us personally.”
    Evolution and the conception of each person may be random (I don’t know), but once we are here, God can understand better than we do what are the best choices for us to make, and can guide us into them if we ask. We pray for that to happen, though we don’t always get it right even then! But the teachings of Jesus are, I believe, right for all of us.

    “I wonder why Jesus did not update he OT tale of the Garden of Eden and Creation in seven days ?”
    I don’t know that he knew that. He was a human being after all, and though I believe he was “son of God”, I don’t think he knew everything, and he was a person of his time in many respects. And even if he had, it would likely have been the same as in Moses learns science.

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  8. westofthebluemountains says:

    Moses learns Science

    Quite possibly it would have been like teaching atomic energy to cavemen, but the Egyptians and Babylonians knew about Pi in about 1900BC so they weren’t stupid. However considering how a lot of modern day people feel about science and mathematics I’m inclined to share your view. 🙂

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  9. westofthebluemountains says:

    but I think probably there are evil spiritual beings, who had choice the same way we do, and stuffed up the same way we have.

    Someone mentioned in another thread that [s]he thought that we were influenced by good and evil spirits and that these spirits have some control over our actions. What are your thoughts on this ?

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  10. unkleE says:

    I’m really unsure about this. Jesus speaks about evil spirits, and I think he meant what he said, but he could have been simply using the thought forms of his day. So like I said, I think they exist, but I think that much of what people say about them is questionable. I think they can influence people, but only rarely “control”. But I am unsure, especially as while the Bible mentions evil spirits, it doesn’t give us much teaching about combatting them, which you’d think it would if we needed to know. This is probably the area of christianity I am least confident of my answer.

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  11. westofthebluemountains says:

    It’s purely speculative of course, but sometimes I get thoughts that I don’t particularly like and regard them as not being in step with my usual thought patterns so perhaps these thoughts are produced by external entities trying to exert some degree of control over my actions. I doubt if I’m alone here.

    The origin of thoughts are interesting to contemplate. Brain chemistry changes seem to be the current scientific explanation, but what causes changes in brain chemistry and will the same changes always produce the same thoughts ? So maybe there are other disturbing influences that the brain responds to apart from our own bodily functions, like a radio receiver tuning in to different stations.

    As I say , pure speculation but I don’t think that we can necessarily explain all our thoughts and actions on physical effects.

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