God Derives No Glory From Us
“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:10)
For much of the history of the church there has been an emphasis on the arts, on producing music or buildings which can evoke a sense of awe. Even the most ardent secularist can step inside a majestic gothic buildings - all height and pointiness - and feel something. A sense of awe, or scale perhaps. Or peace.
No end of gold leaf has been applied to walls and books, with windows casting their light like many jewelled trinkets. The inevitable gift shops at the exit of cathedrals will sell you headscarves covered in stained glass windows, CDs of choirs, and glasses etched with the building itself.
Why is this done? Those who through the ages commissioned would reply it was done for the glory of God. But does one who is all glorious need any glory from us? The simple answer is no. Does the great effort of the missionaries, whose graves are dotted in the remote corners of the earth add to the majesty of God? No. They may bear witness to the goodness of God, but they cannot add to his glory. He is already all-glorious. There is nothing more which can be gained.
We must be wary of thinking that we are doing God a favour with our devotion and energies. He needs no favours, but rather our actions are a rich response to his grace. A joyful echo of what we have received from him. The glory is not in the thing that is produced, but in the majestic God which prompted all of this in the first place. Like still ponds, we reflect back God’s light to him. That, to echo the Communion service, is our duty and our joy.