Beth led the English women’s football team to win the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 Championships, causing her to be subsequently named Player of the Tournament and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2022. The book recounts Beth’s life story, and the challenges she faced on her journey to victory at Euro 2022. She describes the fame, prestige and success she has received as “glory”, yet soon this glory will be just a memory. It will fade as future winners receive the same accolades and trophies. The Bible, however, offers a way to an unfading, eternal glory.
Of all the successful athletes there have been over the years, perhaps no one compares to Pelé, one of the most famous footballers of all time. He was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee in 1999 and was included in the Time list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century. His achievement of 1,279 goals in 1,363 games is recognised as a Guinness World Record. Yet the glory of his World Cup triumphs and all his other awards brought little comfort as he faced his final battle with bowel cancer, from which he died on 29 December 2022.
Psalm 49:17-19 describes the transient nature of earthly glory. Death brings it all to an end. Speaking of unbelievers, the poet writes:
“For when he dies he shall carry nothing away;
His glory shall not descend after him.
Though while he lives he blesses himself
(For men will praise you when you do well for yourself),
He shall go to the generation of his fathers;
They shall never see light.”
How solemn to be lost forever. Yet the author of the psalm writes triumphantly in verse 15, “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me.” He had a sure hope of eternal glory with God even after death. This is of much greater value than the glory of success and fame in this life. “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
The good news is that God is graciously calling us “to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus” (1 Peter 5:10). Glory ultimately belongs to God. He is the One who defines it, as He is the “God of glory” (Acts 7:2). Psalm 138:5 declares, “Great is the glory of the Lord.” We only need to look up on a clear night and see the majestic beauty of God’s creation to appreciate something of how glorious He is. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Indeed, in the future city of God, when God has made all things new and dwells once again with his people there will be “no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminate[s] it” (Revelation 21:23). The risen Lord Jesus, the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world, is its light. It is to this that He is calling us. He wants us to be there with Him forever.
We should pause to consider how surprising this is. And what it would cost God to provide it. We are unfit for God’s glory: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In fact, we deserve God’s righteous judgement for our rebellion and disobedience, “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This means eternal separation from God in the outer darkness of hell. Yet God wants to bring “many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). To do this the Lord Jesus left heaven and became man “for the suffering of death . . . that He . . . might taste death for everyone . . . that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:9,14,15). On the cross he “suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18 CSB). God then raised Him from the dead and “gave Him glory” by causing Him to ascend into heaven itself (1 Peter 1:21).
All who repent of their sins and put their faith in the Lord Jesus to save them will be forgiven and declared right by God. They can say, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . . and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1,2). This is not a wishful kind of hope but a sure confidence that they will one day enter God’s eternal glory. They can be certain about this because Christ has taken the punishment their sins deserve, and they are completely forgiven.
Life is not easy, and we all face problems, some for Christians arising directly from their faith in Christ. Yet we can take for ourselves the words of the Apostle Paul: “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17,18).
Which glory are you chasing after? Don’t be deceived by the fading glory of this world. It is the eternal which matters. Life’s successes and failures, triumphs and trials are just for a moment. All that is celebrated in the media as “glory” is only temporary. Chasing this life’s glory and success will leave us empty-handed. In contrast, trusting Christ and following him faithfully will result in an eternally glorious reward. The Lord Jesus sums it up succinctly in Matthew 6:19,20: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”