Glory Thief – A Most Confessional Post

We were name-dropping, the lot of us,

sitting around a hotel lobby swapping stories about how we’d rubbed elbows or shared elevators with the rich and famous. (I once sat beside Hulk Hogan on a cross-country flight.)

Why is there such pleasure for us in this diversion?

I think because as the famous name drops, we bask, for a moment, in the outer ring of celebrity glory. Standing in the splatter-pattern of awe aimed at these worthy individuals, we catch a splash of adoration and hope it makes us more than we feel we are on our own.

It’s silly

but it’s such a phenomenon that the rich and famous rarely travel without an entourage of glory thieves. People are hard-wired to worship something – someone – and that worship is easily diverted to lesser gods: American Idols – athletes and actresses – tycoons and politicians in power suits. Theoretically, this adoration is limitless but it most often feels like a finite commodity and so we panic there won’t be enough to go around. We grasp at the brass ring hanging from others’ merry-go-rounds.

I confess that I, too, have been a glory thief but I have aimed high, inhaling the incense of adoration intended for Jesus.

It’s true.

I wish I could say I’ve always drawn close to God for the amazing truth of God but more often, I’ve drawn close to Him in the hopes that some of His excess glory would fall on me. This was never more of a struggle than when I played guitar and sang with a rocking worship team.

We were hot. I’d never made better music before and haven’t made better music since. It was worship music and our goal was to lead others to worship Jesus but sometimes the worship lines got a little murky, the awe and energy rising like an incense fog, clouding the initial goal. There were times, I know, I worshiped the sound we made not the One who made us. I drank in the admiration of the congregants like an African violet seeks the sun –

no, that’s way too delicate –

my spirit developed an appetite for this adoration like that giant plant in Little Shop of Horrors – Feed Me, Seymour, Feed Me.

It wasn’t long before I was cozying up to God just to build my own congregation from the overflow of His.

At some point, I repented but I always remember how easily tempted I am to steal God’s glory. I face it with writing. I face it with acts of service. I face it in relationships. I combat it through regular solitude, anonymity in service when possible, and transparency with others. Like this.

I thought this battle was my own private secret, a shameful battle, my solitary crime, until I read Soul’s Gate by Jim Rubart and encountered a scene at the concert of a Christian singer that beautifully illustrates the danger, temptation, and demonic assistance given when we have an opportunity to be scene stealers in the passion play. The image from that novel has become part of my arsenal in the warfare against my own temptable flesh. It was striking in its truth and repugnant enough to be a useful deterrent to sin.

I confess I have been a glory thief.

It’s no small thing to receive the praise and worship that only rightly belongs to God. So I’ve repented and will repent again when the tendrils of temptation spring from the seeds of my desire to be the object of worship rather than the worshiper. I look forward to the day when I am fully free of this nature that seeks to steal from God rather than reflect back to God all that is due Him.

It’s a battle I fight now with the freedom afforded me through my relationship with Jesus Christ. He knows what I’m made of. He knows the snares that seek to trip me up even in my pursuit of Him. But He is greater even than my appetite for glory.

How about you? Have you also tried to rob from God?

Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Glory to God in the Highest. Glory to God. Only to God. I turn from my ways. I have harked the herald. Have you? Gloria in Excelsis Deo.

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    The Conversation

  1. Carla says:

    Awesome, Lori. No, you are NOT the only one facing these temptations, and when I step back and LOOK at what I almost stepped in, I am horrified! John the Baptist said ‘He must increase and I must decrease’. Think of what HE battled, throngs of crowds hanging on his every word. So much so that when his ministry came to an end and he was sitting in the prison, he asked his disciples to go ask Jesus if He was SURE He was the One. Paul was given a ‘thorn in the side’ to keep him humble.

    So let’s pray for each other, that ALL glory goes to God–and we ARE allowed to bask in this Glory IN Him. God bless.

  2. Jamie C says:

    It’s especially easy to fall into the trap of glory-stealing when you are performing acts of service to others. Those who are on the receiving end quite often will pour out their gratitude to you instead of thanking and praising God for it. Personally, I have tried to cultivate the habit of always pointing them to their Creator and directing their gratitude to Him instead of towards me, fallen creature that I am. The same holds true for those who see my acts of service towards others and want to praise me for my actions. Again, I have tried to cultivate the habit of deflecting their praise off of me and onto Him since He is the author and finisher of my faith and any “good” I might do is only because of Him. It can be awkward at times to make this point with those around me but, for me, I believe it’s the only way I can continue to walk in the good works He’s created for me to do and to do them for His honor and glory alone.