Have you ever had someone take credit for your work? Maybe you had a boss claim your team’s innovation as his own to gain a promotion. Maybe you remember that group project in school where that one group member did little of the work – only to take much of the credit when it was time to present.
As frustrating as these occasions are on their own, they’re made more frustrating by the fact that the people taking credit for others’ work sometimes won’t even realize they’re doing it. Sometimes, a person genuinely thinks he came up with the innovation, idea, or did the work when he clearly didn’t. Sometimes, we’re no exception to this blindness. As people, we have a tendency of making ourselves the heroes of our own stories.
And as Christians, we have a tendency of making ourselves the heroes of our own story. After the baptism of someone who’s professed faith, we are quick to say, “Congratulations!” We are slow to say, “Praise God!” How many of our contemporary worship songs focus more on our feelings or thoughts or imaginations than on what God has done? But this isn’t just a problem for the contemporary church. Go back one hundred years and count the number of songs about a heavenly mansion, receiving a crown, or streets of gold. Go way back and look at the way James and John asked to sit on thrones beside Jesus – only to be told that the “great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:43).
If we know by scripture alone that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, then it’s clear that glory belongs to God alone. God is the subject of our salvation. Any glory we have is participatory glory, glory that shares the divine glory of God. It’s not a glory we can manufacture. And it’s not a glory for which we can take credit.
Worship in the heavenly throne room in Revelation is very different from what many of us expect. Instead of glorying in the crowns they receive, the elders cast their crowns before the throne and say, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.” God is worthy because God “created all things” (Revelation 4:11).
And God is worthy because in Jesus Christ, God descended from glory and became one of us for us. Jesus is glorified because he exemplified his own teaching that the great must become the servant. Jesus is glorified because by his blood he “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). Indeed, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12)!
Glory to God alone, now and forever! Amen.