The Glory Days Are Here (and Yet to Come)

Christian Life & Theology

I’m told the good days are over.

If the election turns out one way, things will never be the same. If a vaccine is mandated, or if it isn’t; if the House changes, or if it doesn’t; if the businesses open, or if they don’t – the good days are over. There is no hope.

I hold grief in one hand and joy in the other. Grief for the losses, not just from a pandemic (loss of life and economy) but loss in the lives of those closest to me. Those losses come hot and heavy, more frequent than before. What is happening? Was one disease not enough, that cancer stole more? Thousands around the world have suffered; why do those in MY circle have to, as well? Why, on top of the horror of this weary world, did those I love lose babies and jobs?

But in the other hand I hold hope, fragile like glass, glimmering with goodness. In this hand is favor, a counterbalance for the grief.

And I wonder: How can something so fragile outweigh the heaviness of mourning?

When grief is too much for me, which it often is, I remember that the Church is the answer to evil. But even as I answer that call, I doubt the resilience of hope. How do we hope for a better world if the good days are over? What good can be coming from a new administration (or not), a new vaccine (or not), a new economy (or not)? No matter who you are or where you stand, you’ve asked that question. What you believe determines whether what you see in the future is goodness, of if what you see is hopeless.

At some point all of us have been told: the good days are over. The glory days are past. This is an Ichabod Year.

But who is speaking? Who has the authority to tell us the glory has departed? Who decides that goodness has run out?

If I turn my eyes away from the voices around me and turn them back to the Voice that made me, I hear a different story. His voice says that goodness and mercy follow me. They pursue me. They are with me because of Immanuel – God with us. 

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:5-6

The truth spoken by Him drowns the truth of the world: their dark and foreboding view which would leave me with no place to turn. No place… except back to the One who promises presence… the One who is Prince of Peace.

Goodness and mercy are here. 

They are not unattainable and absentee, not waiting in some far-off land to be achieved with enough penance or sacrifice. They are here because Christ is here.

We can simultaneously hope for the new creation and also create new hope. We can fix our eyes on eternity and let that eternity become kingdom, now. Heaven was never meant to be an escape but a reality. Life in Christ is the realest way to live, an experience of God’s redemption in the midst of a broken world. To be part of the Church is to be hope realized, made tangible and touchable; hope embodied a thousand times over.

If we believe the sum of Christ’s intention is found in politics or worldly peace, then yes, there’s not much goodness and glory to be found. But if we believe what Jesus said in John 16, we can rest in the knowledge that He has overcome the world. The war is won, but the battle is still being fought. We fight from a standpoint of victory. We breathe from a place of peace. Rest and Sabbath and the dwelling in safety are real for us even as we face the tension of a dangerous and evil world. It is both “now, and not yet”.

For Christians, work comes from a state of rest. Courage is lived without earthly guarantees. Weeping exists alongside an eternal hope.

In Haggai 2, the Lord said to Israel regarding the Temple:

“The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Haggai 2:9)

At the time, Israel was rebuilding a faint echo of the Temple’s greatness; such an echo that the older generation wept at the sight of it. It was a far cry from the Temple they knew. Yet God’s promise was clear: The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former.

Flash forward to the Samaritan woman at the well, clutching her water pot and talking to the Jewish rabbi who asked for a drink.

“…a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:23)

The power of God’s goodness, blasting beyond the Temple’s walls, indwells every person who bows her knee to Christ. This is the glory we know. This is the glory we experience. And this is just a seal of a future glorification greater than anything we have seen so far (Eph. 2:6). The present house is greater than the former, because the present house is every single believer in Christ. The Church.

Jesus’ promise to the Samaritan woman is our daily reality. If we worship the Father in spirit and in truth, the glory of God rests upon and within us. How could such a glory NOT impact its community? How could such a glory be contained?

It can’t. And that’s the point.

No matter what believers and unbelievers say about the glory days, for Christians, the glory days have not departed. The glory days have just begun, and have always been, as long as the Church has been alive.

The glory days are the average days, the days the goodness of God is seen through our words and our hands. The glory days are in the kindness of a restrained tongue and the extravagance of a generous heart. The glory days are you knocking on your neighbor’s door to see how they’re doing and how you can serve. The glory days are finding less fault with your local church and instead, serving it selflessly.

At some point all of us have been told: the good days are over. The glory days are past. This is an Ichabod Year.

But where Christ is, glory never departs. And Christ is here.