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July 27, 2020 - The “Glory” of Humanity?

Early in the last century, American author Thomas Wolfe wrote this tribute to his fellow species: “Yes, this is man, and it is impossible to say the worst of him, for the record of his obscene existence, his baseness, lust, cruelty, and treachery, is illimitable. His life is also full of toil, tumult, and suffering. His days are mainly composed of a million idiot repetitions—in goings and comings along hot streets, in sweatings and freezings, in the senseless accumulation of fruitless tasks, in decaying and being patched, in grinding out his life so that he may buy bad food, in eating bad food so that he may grind his life. He is the dweller in that ruined tenement who, from one moment’s breathing to another, can hardly forget the bitter weight of his uneasy flesh, the thousand diseases and distresses of his body, the growing incubus of his corruption. This is man, who, if he can remember ten golden moments of joy and happiness out of all his years, ten moments unmarked by care, unseamed by aches or itches, has power to lift himself with his expiring breath and say: ‘I have lived upon this earth and known glory!’”(Wolfe, Thomas. You Can't Go Home Again [pp. 366-367]. Scribner. Kindle Edition.)

Not sure, exactly, what this “glory” is that such wretched creatures supposedly find in this life, particularly life as depicted, and fairly accurately too, by Thomas Wolfe here. Though possible, most folks, when lying on their death beds, whatever they might be saying in an expiring breath, it’s mostly likely not, “I have known glory!”

Instead, Wolfe’s words are the cries of someone seeking to find some purpose, some meaning, something from a life that, in and of itself, can seem devoid of meaning and purpose. And, in fact, in and of itself, this life is without meaning and purpose. Even Paul said, “If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:32). In other words, without the promise of the resurrection, without the hope of eternal life in Christ, what is there other to eat and drink, which might be fine for sustaining life, and to some degree enjoying life, but hardly give any meaning to it.

And this Good News of the Gospel is that, yes, though, as Wolfe wrote, it is “impossible to say the worst” of us, Christ died for us anyway, and the glory we will know is found in Christ: “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

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