What is glory...
...and what does it have to do with me?
In fact, everything.
Glory is an epic-sounding but rather generic term that describes the revelation of a person's (or thing's) essential and greatest value.
We say someone is "in all their glory" when they are exhibiting the truest, most powerful, fluent, and beautiful essence of themselves. Think of these...
A runner sprinting across the finish line in perfect form.
A pianist executing a Rachmaninoff piece with perfect technique and gorgeous expression.
A mountain goat tripping up a steep cliff with ease...
A flock of birds in flight, swooping and diving somehow as one...
A tree in spring, with new green buds on the tip of every branch...
Glory is simply what pours out of a created thing when he, she, or it is free, whole, healthy, safe, and fully loved. Each of us has a glory all our own, a special-ness that only we can fulfill by being alive and investing that life into becoming as fully what we were created to become as we possibly can.
The glory of each and every person, place, or thing comes from the God whose very existence is Glory. He entrusts and invests a ray of his glory to each created thing, including each person, and the degree to which each person radiates the glory given to him or her by God is the same degree the rest of us are privileged to witness a glimpse of God's character and glory.
If God is a Master Artist, then your glory is every detail he chose off his infinite palette of glory when he created you...
Your way of seeing the world.
Your gender, male or female.
Your talents and interests.
Your unique emotional responses to beauty and pain.
Your approach to getting things done.
Your way of knowing him.
This is just a tiny list of all the ways God uniquely crafted you, and the combination of them all is like your fingerprint - completely, totally unique. A one-of-a-kind ray of who God is. More than any other person, Jesus lived out the glory God had given him: "He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature" (Heb 1:3).
The reason Jesus is said to be an "exact" representation of God is that Jesus had no sin. Sin brings shame, and shame covers our glory. When we are ashamed we hide, we lie, and we mask ourselves. Sin can affect all of the long list of what makes you YOU, so much so that you might even be ashamed of something God has made glorious. God wants to address our sin because he wants to reveal and unleash our glory, and he knows that sin gets in the way, makes glory ugly, traps it in fear and shame, and distances us from all that we were meant to be.
The world's solution to Shame is Pride. The world says, "I'm sick of being ashamed of myself. This is ME. Don't tell me who I am. Whatever I want to be, I'll be, and I won't be ashamed anymore."
It's good to want a way out of shame. It's good to want to become the truest version of yourself. It's good to want to live openly without apologies. That's how Jesus lived. He lived radiantly and exactly true to who he truly was.
But he didn't achieve that level of perfect freedom and joy with Pride.
The lie Pride will tell you is that what "you" are comes from and is defined by you. But the Bible says it's actually the other way around. You are defined by and made "you" because of the glory that comes from God. Certain treasured aspects of his glory have been wisely crafted into the one-of-a-kind color that is "you" - a color that has great value because it is rare and can only be carried through your life. This value of life is God's gift to you, and to the world as you live it out. Your you-ness cannot be dismissed, reduced, or altered. It has intrinsic value; your you-ness is your glory.
The Bible's answer to Shame is not Pride; it's Glory. Yes, God does want you to live in fulfillment and freedom as you become more and more the person you were meant to be. Yes, God does want you free from shame. Where shame covers, God unveils glory.
Pride leaves us naked and exposed in our sin. Pride lets sin hang out without shame, to be gawked and giggled at. And that's no solution to shame.
It's not that God wants you buried in shame and covered as if we were unfit to be seen. He made you and he wants to be known through your life. When we turn to Jesus Christ in faith, his gentle love lifts the veil off of us and, by tiny degrees, reveals who we truly are in his image. To walk in the love of God through Jesus Christ is to become the best version of yourself you were ever meant to be.
"But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding as if in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:16-18)