That’s how J. S. Bach dedicated many of his works. S.D.G. – Soli Deo Gloria. “For the glory of God alone.” He didn’t expect his works to be heard three hundred years later; he wrote them for God’s glory in the moment. Whether those pieces lasted for generations or passed swiftly from memory was of no concern; only the certainty of a heavenly audience mattered.
This crossed my mind last Sunday morning on the way to church. The third Brandenburg Concerto by Bach was just starting on the radio, and my train of thought was passing through some familiar lands…
Soli Deo Gloria.
If it is not eternal, it is passing.
Soli Deo Gloria.
All other things…evaporated, dissolved, destroyed.
Ultimately, only His glory will last.
Soli Deo Gloria.
In dying for my sin, His Son died for His glory. He adopted me for the sake of His glory. I am an eternal being…for His glory. I will live forever.
I am an eternal being in the midst of a temporal situation.
The train of thought switched tracks into new territory…
Why don’t I live like an eternal being?
Is this the way that one would really live?
Would an eternal being fret over the future?
Why am I so concerned that I will miss something?
I use my time strategizing about how to best spend my life instead of how to surrender my life. Am I creating a highly polished, efficient machine instead of nurturing a eternal soul clad in relatable flesh?
Yes, we are to “redeem the time,” but much of my redeeming looks like scheming; I plot and plan to avoid utter dependence upon Him. Am I living in such a way so that, if He doesn’t show up in power, I am going to fail completely? Or do I ask Him to work in a mighty way, but arrange things so that I will still look okay if He doesn’t move?
If I lived like an eternal being, would I struggle with life like I do?
Now, some would say that we struggle here only because we are destined for more and look forward to that fulfillment. It is true: the future expectation brings joy, but our joy is not realized completely. That is why we have hope. We groan, wanting to be with Him, desiring to be made perfect and be delivered from the limits of knowing Him placed upon us by sin.
But I believe that some of our grief is due to something else as well…
We don’t enjoy life.
We see it as something to get through.
Yes, life here is hard. It is fraught with danger and disappointment, it wars against the eternal nature within each of us. But Jesus did not endure His life here; He lived fully and missed out on nothing. How did He navigate life, enjoy the company of friends, minister to crowds and individuals, yet still maintain His singular focus?
I know this can be an abused notion, this enjoyment of life. We can develop such “friendship with the world” and become ensnared by the “passing pleasures of sin” offered to us (James 4:4; Heb. 11:25). Satan would love for my heavenly hope to fade from thought and have me believe that my temporal happiness is all that matters. There is a sinful part of me that agrees with that idea; I want to meet my own desires here when I begin to think that “now” is all there is. That thinking is a complete lie at best.
We can enjoy the things of life without being mastered by them. God “richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17).
This is not advocating earthly hedonism; this is just what He said. He Himself said that He came so that we might “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). We are not talking just about eternal life in heaven, but a new life here. And we certainly are not talking “health-and-wealth-prosperity-gospel.” That approach is not only unbiblical, but so terribly weak.
Don’t believe for one moment that God sent His Son to die on the Cross for our temporal comfort. If you are an eternal being who finds satisfaction merely in avoiding the flu, having a savings account, holding a good job and being liked by others, then you have forgotten who you are in Him.
If our lives are filled with nothing but thoughts of future glory there or only our enjoyment and comfort here, we will miss our purpose most surely and most widely.
The Creator moved through His creation without being absorbed into it, without being shaped by it, yet exerted a powerful influence.
“But wait,” some would say. “He is God. Of course He could do that.”
But does He not live within His own now?
Does He not fill those who surrender to His will?
Is not the same Spirit within me the one who raised Jesus from the dead?
Can He not influence a person who is dead to self so that mind, will and emotions are controlled by Him?
Does He not expect, and should I not seek, to have every corner of my life invaded by Him?
Should I not live my life as He lived His?
Has any person ever lived life as fully as the God-Man?
He knew what His previous glory was like, before He came to earth, but He lived a fully-engaged life here among us.
He gave us the perfect example of how an eternal being should live in the here and now.
We can lead lives of glory just as He did. We must. We learn to die to self, not to survive, but to live fully (Gal. 2:20).
As all these things settled in my mind, I reached over, took the volume knob between my fingers and turned the Brandenburg Concerto up until I could feel it in the soles of my feet as the sound vibrated through the floorboard.
An eternal being enjoying a temporal piece of art created by another eternal being for the glory of The Eternal One.
2 Timothy 1:14
Romans 8:11, 19-25