When I was a kid we’d go to my grandma’s and grandpa’s home in Joshua Tree for Grubstake Days – and they would always have a greased pig contest, where they’d grease up a pig and then people would try to capture it. It was messy and tough. Glory is one of those words that is like a greased pig; hard to get a handle on.
We throw the word "glory" around a lot in Christian circles – Glory to God, we want to glorify God, the glory of Christ – sounds great – but what does it mean? What is it? Glory is not a word we use in everyday speech, but in the Bible it is an important word with lots of meaning. Glory in the Biblical sense gives perspective to our values. It calls us to deeply worship God. When we talk about the Glory of Christ we mean His reputation, His high position His excellence, His greatness. 2 Cor. 4:3-4 says "and even if our gospel is veiled it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God".
Glory is who and what Jesus is as the image of God, God Himself. God dwells in glory. That’s what we see in phrases like in Hebrews 1:3 "He is the radiance of His glory, the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power". In the Old Testament glory comes from the Hebrew word kabod meaning weighty or heavy; points to how impressive and worthy God is of our praise. It is also related to a word meaning to beautify. The glory of humans is subjective; the glory of God is objective. Human glory is rooted in the evaluation of others; God's glory is not rooted in evaluation by others but in His very nature. So when we speak of the Glory of Christ we mean who He is in and of Himself as God. When God’s glory is recognized by humans, all the things we take pride in humanly fade to nothingness.
In the New Testament the Greek word for glory is doxa, which when applied to people is focused on the opinions of others; expresses the value people put on others based on their accomplishments. The Greeks highest goal was to be honored and praised by others. This meaning is completely transformed in the Bible. When the translators of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek chose doxa to translate the Hebrew word kabod; glory as mere human opinion was radically transformed into glory as the majesty associated with God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. What we consider great and famous pales in comparison to the glory of God.
What we mean by the Glory of Christ is: who He is, what He does, His magnificence, His greatness, His majesty, His fame, independent of all. His is self-contained glory, dependent on no one. The world is impressed by appearances – wealth and position are equated with glory and fame; and people desperately seek the admiration and approval of others trying to get it. Christians have a much different view; a different set of values. True glory is found only in the splendor and magnificence of God. We recognize it as we recognize His greatness as shown in His actions.
Our response? We offer Him praise. We give Him glory. We recognize and acknowledge who He is in and of Himself and we give Him the appropriate response: Worship.