When I was in middle school, I remember going to church camp and conferences and really wanting to put my hands up during a worship song. I would feel something in my soul stirring as the lights dimmed, drums pounding, bass so loud you can feel it in your chest, something inside rising up to the point that I knew I myself needed to move, needed to reach for this God I was singing about. Just as my hands would flutter, inching upward from my lap to my sides, I would hesitate. I would look to my left, look to my right. My friends’ arms, crossed in front of their chest, would stop me.
Or there were times my friend’s hand would be in the air and eagerly, having found the permission I was looking for, I would reach, eyes closed, forgetting where I was until the song was over and sometimes I stood, embarrassed, no, mortified, if my hands were the only ones still up.
Or there were times I stood, my own arms crossed tight, not letting myself feel one tiny thing, holding tight. Not giving myself permission to let go one bit.
I’ve been reading through John with SheReadsTruth (side note: have you wondered what the fuss about SheReadsTruth is about? I challenge you to take a week and check out the devotional every morning. I’ve never been one for a prescribed devotion, but really, SRT is an amazing community and has really encouraged me) and this verse has been stuck in my head like a bad Britney Spears song for the past week and a half:
“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”
John 5:44, ESV
It’s not a, “That’s a bad idea.” It’s not a “Maybe this will go better if you…” It’s a statement that seeking glory from people and believing God are two mutually exclusive things. They absolutely cannot coexist.
And then we hear this really sad story,
“Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”
They had him! They had Jesus right there, in the flesh, moving among them. They saw with their own eyes miracles that could not be explained. They heard his teachings like no other that opened their minds and hearts to Scripture they had heard their wholes lives.
But they couldn’t take hold of him. Because they wanted the comfort and none of the confusion. They wanted the head without the heart. They wanted the mundane rather than the miraculous. They wanted to receive glory rather than be near the One who embodies glory.
Don’t let that be said of you. Don’t let that be your epitaph. Don’t keep your hands at your sides, waiting for permission to believe. The world is never going give you permission to live an extravagant life spent on Jesus. So close your eyes, lift your hands, let your spirit fill, and forget to look around. Because how can you believe if you don’t seek His glory?