Gravity, not 15 Minutes of Fame
In 1968 Andy Warhol said that in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes. Today with Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Reality TV, it seems that Warhol’s prediction has come true, even if he overshot the fame part by 14 minutes, 30 seconds. In those 30 seconds of modern fame, a person today has the significance of their person, their character, their ability and reputation pressed down into the experience of others. Their fame flees after 15 seconds or so because they don’t have the ability to sustain their momentary glory. So they move from significant to insignificant, influential to irrelevant, and impactful to inconsequential.
In the Scriptures, the word for this significant, influential, relevant, impactful and consequential emanation is called khavod. We normally associate this kind of glory with mega-experiences like, the first glance of the Rockies, or the seas of the Pacific, Atlantic or Arctic. These experiences are so massive, they feel heavy, like we are being overwhelmed with the weight of beauty, expanse and wonder that is pressing on us. But that is what the biblical notion of that Hebrew word means. Glory is heavy.
The trouble with mountains and oceans and beauty and wonder is that we get tired, and even a little bored of feeling the heavieness of their glory. That’s why people go camping and still look at their smartphones. Our fallenness and finiteness make us incapable of sustainable glory gazing.
So when we look at glory, we get bored and self absorbed. And in this way we can quickly take the beauty and glory of creation and turn it into really being about us. Instead of seeing an idyllic lake or rocky cliff pointing us to the greater glory of God, we flip it. As the early Christian leader Paul put it, people, “worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator” and the result is that we’ve “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images”(Romans 1.25; 1.23).
This means that everyone in this world needs to stop being a gravity-denier. God’s glory, his heaviness has a gravitational pull on all of us. We can say it isn’t so, but we’re denying reality and so denying God.
One of the classic examples of an awakened recognition of the gravity of God came to the ancient prophet Isaiah when he had a supernatural vision of the khavod of God. Isaiah saw that God was morally pure-- triple deluxe pure so that angelic beings could not view God directly because their creaturely eyeballs would fry if they looked at God’s holy purity. And these angels sang out, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies--- the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6.3). That vision of moral purity was not merely significant, it crushed Isaiah. He was crushed under the weight of God’s holy gravity. He had to confess, “I am undone. For I am a man of unclean lips and I live in the midst of a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the king, the Lord of heaven’s armies” (v.5). What was a glory-crushed guy to do?
He needed to have his sin taken away by the God of holy gravity. In the vision it was pictured as a burning briquette from a holy-fire-altar. It was touched to his lips to cleanse his sin-spewing outlet (v.6-7).
Fast forward to Good Friday, when the holy gravity of God’s moral purity came crushing down on the sin and guilt of the glory-exchangers. Yet those folks weren’t hanging on the cross. Jesus the Son of God was. He took the gravity of God’s holy glory, and actively recieved its crushing effect in just wrath by substitution for glory-exchangers that should have been hung there. As Paul said, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5.21).
Jesus didn’t stay dead but rose from the gravel bed. He rose and returned to ‘the glory he had before with the Father’ (John 17.5). So now, the gravity of Jesus’ glory in the gospel presses on all who believe. And it motives his disciples to see the nations submit under the weight of his holy gravity (Matt 28.19-20), that he might lift them up (Col 3.1; Eph 2.6; Rom 6.4) and ‘bring many sons and daughters to glory’ (Hebrews 2.10).