One of the joys of parenting is watching your children put on a performance of some variety. My two year old shouts, “Dad, Dad, look at me,” as she proceeds to spin around in a clumsy circle, “I’m dancing!” It’s not graceful but it is beautiful. Or another child learns to play Mary Had a Little Lamb on the tin whistle and after about ten times through you have to beg her to stop. It’s not a masterpiece but it’s touching.
There’s an innate desire in all of us to be noticed for something good. We want others to find something useful in us. As adults, we might overshare in a class because we had an “aha” moment and felt others would be enriched. Or in our zeal, we may send an email we will later regret because of poor wording and unprocessed thinking. It’s not that we don’t have filters (some of us) or that we want to come across as somehow more “arrived” or (to borrow today’s jargon) “woke” than others.
I think there’s a God-shaped yearning to be seen for the good we offer. I believe we are acting like Christ when we put ourselves out there in hopes of helping others (whether it’s reciprocated, appreciated or not is not the point). I read 1 Thessalonians 1:10 the other day. It speaks of the return of Christ to the world to finish the re-creation he had previously begun. It’s such a wonderfully worded verse that just says so much: “When he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believe.”
God’s holy ones (the saints) will collectively be the source of much wonder when the Lord returns to set things aright and make them glorious again. He will be glorified in his saints! I can’t help but think of an eager artist who has poured his life into his work. The reveal day is fast approaching when he will show the entire world what he’s been up to all this time. The seats will be full. The audience is sitting on the edge of their chairs. And the anticipation will be so great you could hear the proverbial pin drop. And then, at last, the artist pulls away the curtain and with a gasp of breathlessness the onlookers will finally see. Every eye, in fact, will see: the hosts of heavens, the hordes of darkness, all the peoples of the earth, even the earth and all creation itself will see.
And what will they see? His church. They will see his dazzling, perfected, and radiant church dressed as a bride in all her splendor. This is the work he has been completing with the blood and sweat of his own brow and with the vision of his own tear-filled eyes. Every eager groom cries or at least gets misty-eyed (or am I just a leaky faucet?)
“Tada!” he will beam with pride before the universe and the universe will erupt with sounds of speechlessness at the brilliance, the genius. “Wasn’t that Josh Hollis who let me down so often? Look how whole and sincere he looks now!” Or. “Isn’t that so-and-so… they look so…so new!”
But that’s not all. In that great day not everyone will be transfixed on Christ’s workmanship. The same verse tells us the saints, Christ’s church, will be transfixed on Christ. It says they will marvel at him! It is they who will be taken back by his glory, by his awe-inspiring person, and by his authority and greatness. Together with the saints, the universe will even cease its chaos and groaning to say, “At last, now our longing has been satisfied. Look! The sons of God and our King together at last!” (Romans 8:19-23)
It’s probably too inane to say, “And they lived happily ever after,” however true it might be. In the fairy tales, we usually want to know what happens after 5-10 years of “living happily every after”. Is it so happy then too? The books or movies mercifully leave us hanging on the details. But in Christ’s kingdom there is a happily ever after that doesn’t imply some dull ending. C.S. Lewis had it right in his Narnia series when he describes Aslan’s Country (Heaven) in the following way, “I have come home at last! This is my real country. I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it until now… come further up, come further in.”1.
Then we shall spend eternity marveling at him. As we travel further in and further up into his land and we shall find fresh reasons to marvel at him. Since God is infinite in his perfections so shall our satisfying ourselves in Him also be infinite!
1. The Last Battle, from the Chronicles of Narnia