Hope of Glory


Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:25-27)

We have usually assumed that this phrase hope of glory refers a hope that we have of experiencing glory, whatever that might mean. But I heard someone quote this passage recently in a way that caused me to view it from a surprisingly different perspective. And although I am sure it is right to view it from this typical perspective, I believe it is also valid to consider another option as well.

The context that makes this other option so compelling to me is my growing awareness of the far larger context in which our salvation, as well as the salvation of God's reputation, is all taking place. Salvation is not nearly so humanistically oriented as we have made it out to be. I am no longer convinced that the plan of salvation is primarily for our benefit, though that is certainly a wonderful aspect that is involved. I have come to see that the core issue of salvation revolves around God's reputation as viewed throughout the entire universe which entails the future of His ability to govern all creation the way He intends to do it, without any of the dark clouds of doubt about His trustworthiness that have constantly inhibited so many from freely trusting His ways of love.

If all of that seems to fly a bit over the head, please forgive me. This entails a great deal of information and fresh beliefs I have been embracing for a number of years that would take too long to explain here all at once. Suffice it to say, there is far more to salvation than simply getting our skins into heaven and helping us to escape the discomfort of this old world. God is at the center of this war, not us.

I have come to realize more and more that salvation might be better viewed more broadly from far beyond our puny perspective here on earth. As we try to catch a hint of the potential perspective of unfallen angels or other created intelligent beings in far-flung regions of the universe, we might be able to gain a little more appreciation of what this phrase hope of glory might involve.

Consider this word glory here not so much referring to a state of being but rather an orientation, as in heavenly places where glory is just something normal. Then this phrase can suddenly take on completely new dimensions. If we seek to consider the potential perspective of beings from that side of the war zone instead of remaining so entrenched in our narrow viewpoints of what is taking place, then this hope of glory could be perceived as a very real hope in the hearts of billions of beings eager to see God's name vindicated to bring closure to this war of sin. And the way He has announced this will happen is through the work He says He will do in the hearts of reclaimed rebels and salvaged sinners.

Do you start to sense it yet? If God's ability to govern free of all lingering doubts in the minds of any thinking entity anywhere in the universe is ever to come to reality, then it will happen because He proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that His methods of winning by use of love alone without ever resorting to coercion, deception or fear tactics can actually work. And the way He intends to prove His claims is by working miraculous transformations from the inside of us through the indwelling of Christ in all those who accept His offer to put His Spirit within them.

If we view the big picture from this perspective, it can start to become more clear why the hope of the universe is for God to win the war of slander launched against His reputation. And it all hinges on His success in developing perfect reflections of His beauty and character in the very beings He created for that purpose. As beings specially designed to be reflective images of God, humans are uniquely poised to be the primary means by which the entire cosmic conflict can be won for God. And the loyal universe is pinning their hope on God being right when He says that He can do what may many times from their perspective look like something quite impossible.

Remember, the rest of the universe is largely untainted but very vulnerable, a place where love alone is the principle that governs all relationships between every being. But God has proposed His intent to bring into that pristine environment myriads of salvaged sinners from a world that has for all intents and purposes been quarantined with a deadly virus that has devastated our race for around six thousand years. Yet God says He wants to reintegrate humanity back into the fabric of the rest of the universe, which to many could sound like a recipe for disaster as far as their situation is concerned.

But here is the most amazing part of this scenario. Based on what I am coming to see about the kind of God who runs this universe, God runs His government based on a completely open format, meaning that He does nothing arbitrary or in secret. Even more amazing than that, there is evidence that He interacts with a massive organization of ambassadors from all over the universe in what is analogous to our UN or something like an open court where every decision and request from anywhere is considered by all who in turn are given equal opportunity to voice their opinions or concerns.

This is so foreign to our way of thinking and governing that it sounds downright absurd at first. But the more I ponder it based on the evidence the convinced I am that this is in fact the case. For God is so protective of this fundamental element of total freedom for every individual that He consistently respects the concerns and opinions of everyone throughout the universe. Because of this He will never force anything on anyone against their will, so He will not bring salvaged sinners into the atmosphere of heaven until there is complete agreement by all the waiting universe when they freely sign on to His plan with confidence that He will work it all out the way He says He can for the good of all.

Now, it may be hard for us to imagine why these unfallen beings might have such strong reservations about allowing us to get to close to their homes and their loved ones. This is because we have such dim awareness of the purity, intensity and extreme vulnerable nature of paradise. We have almost no clue of the great danger that even the most noble human might present to that rare atmosphere. Yet God has already taken a few samples of humanity into that environment which may have smoothed the way for many there to have more confidence that He just may be able to bring others in without negative repercussions. But their confidence that God knows what He is doing and can pull off this feat may still be more along the line of hope at this point rather than permission. Yet God is doing everything possible to nudge all the reluctant observers toward complete agreement with His plan so that when the time is ripe He can bring all of His loyal children home to be with Him without any reluctance in the minds of anyone already there.

If I read this verse from the perspective of unfallen beings already living in glory, I could see how they would have hope that by Christ living in me, and everyone else God intends to save, we all could be made safe enough to be trusted around delicate, pure beings. These are beings who have long thrived in the rare atmosphere of pure love and are the ones whom God wants to welcome us with open arms instead of feeling reserved that we might mess things up or bring the infection of selfishness there.

Let me add one more factor to this in case you feel there is not so much need for them to be concerned. When the 'saved' are resurrected and join Christ in the clouds of glory to be with Him for a thousand years before the next resurrection of everyone else, there is no miraculous change whatsoever in their ways of thinking, their habits or their character. And while it is true that everyone in this first resurrection receives a glorified body which is far superior to the one we have now, as far as character, personality and disposition goes there will be no artificial alteration of our condition whatsoever.

The character we develop now by our choices here on earth determines just how safe we are to be saved and accepted into the pure atmosphere of heaven. If we refuse to be transformed by the Spirit of God now and cling to our resistance to living in love here, it would not be safe to suddenly be plunged into an atmosphere where pure love and joy is all there is to experience. We would actually be terribly miserable in that environment, which is exactly why God will not force us to be in that place unless we have first allowed Him ahead of time to prepare us for that transition.

To make this much more personal, it is becoming clear that from the perspective of unfallen beings, their hope of peace and the safety of their environment pivots on the success of Christ living within me. So my qualification for entrance into heaven is not about getting my behavior to align with a list of regulations but has to do with my willingness to enter now into living in the spirit of love, the very same spirit that motivates every being in heaven right now. And because my life is an open book to the watching universe and all the angels who can observe every word and action that I do, my choices and my life influences the hope that those already in glory are investing in God who is intent on transforming me from a selfish sinner into a loving, humble servant and friend of God.

With this perspective in mind it could be easier to have more incentive to take seriously the invitation of Jesus to cooperate with His work of transforming my life with His grace in my heart. It is the indwelling Christ, the Christ in you arrangement that Paul talks about in this passage, that is the core issue in the hopes of everyone watching our lives from the other side. And this hope is rooted in God accomplishing His transforming preparation in my heart as I am willing to be made humble like Jesus, compassionate like Jesus, loving and selfless like Jesus. And all of this can only happen as I allow the presence of Jesus to fill me deep inside, to draw me into knowing Him intimately through open and honest communication, by education in a greater knowledge of the truth about Him and through shared experiences of life with Him. This is the only way to effectively prepare to meet my God.

See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. (Isaiah 60:2 NIV)

It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy, and truth... {COL 415}

May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:2-4 NRSV)

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