L’Abri Conference Reflections: Goodness and Glory

L’Abri is French for “the shelter.” The L’Abri ministry was founded by Francis and Edith Schaeffer in 1955 to provide a hospitable environment for any person seeking honest answers to honest questions about God and truth. Following in that tradition, a L’Abri Conference provides an opportunity through lectures, discussions, and personal interaction to deepen understanding of what it means to be fully human in light of the transformative truth of Christianity. Each lecture, workshop, mealtime, and discussion is designed to facilitate an exchange of ideas among conference attendees and speakers.

What follows is the first installment of a series of reflections from my attendance at the 2019 Nashville L’Abri Conference, Being Human in a Fragmenting World.

What is our sense of glory, and where is it coming from?

One of the main points of Dick Keyes’ opening address centered on the concept of glory. Glory, he asserts, does not only carry the meaning of radiance and beauty, but also gravity and substance. It is something that is built into our imaginations.

We have two yardsticks by which we often let determine our choices in life: the yardstick of right and wrong and the yardstick of glory and shame. Keyes notes that if our glory is in sync with our morality, we are lifted to excellence. If they are opposed, the result will be constant conflict.

I have seen this in my own life, when my deepest desires feel contradictory to what I know is true. When I feel the immense conflict, I often rely on the glory I receive from being open and vulnerable with my story to help me stay on track. But this sort of glory is conditional and fragile. It is based on the opinion of people, not on God.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10

God wants to redeem our imaginations by merging our morality with our desire for glory. Christians get this bizarre idea in their heads sometimes that glory is something not to be pursued. But we all have this innate hunger for glory for a reason.

We were made for glory.

What if our glory was indeed, Christ? What if we not only turned our intellects toward Him, but our imaginations as well? What if when we walk through death’s door as children of God, we run headlong into glory, into the arms of Jesus? And He who knows us more intimately than we know ourselves – the One Who is familiar with our most lamentable and darkest thoughts and our dearest good desires – whispers in our ears with a love that warms us and fills us with radiant reality from head to toe: “well done, good and faithful servant.”

This glory is secured for we who trust in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Our glory isn’t based on our performance, which feels both insulting and freeing. Insulting, because we truthfully want to give ourselves a little credit; freeing because we need no accreditation to enter the Kingdom. The stains on our resumes mean nothing.

What greater glory could there be than hearing “well done” from the Creator of the universe and Savior of my body, mind, and soul? Ultimate rightness and heroic triumph is my end.

What greater end is there to:

associate with
commune with
conquer with
serve with
desire with
live with

than the weight of this glory?

27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Colossians 1:27

The result of having morality and glory in sync is the imitation of Christ – human excellence in the fullest sense. Imitation, though viewed in our culture as trash because of the false notion of it threatening our individuality and freedom, is flipped on its head by Jesus, the great head-flipper.

Imitating Christ is the pinnacle of individuality and freedom. When Christ is our glory, we are most free to be our true selves. The fruit of this imitation is humility, love, service, forgiveness, willingness to suffer unjustly, and courage.

Exhibiting these virtues, how could the world not notice? To image the glory of Christ is so otherworldly that it stretches our imaginations beyond the limitations of our fallen world.

Oh that we would let fall the chains of other glories so that freedom would be set free in every corner of our existence.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

galatians 5:1

May we all see the goodness and beauty in what the Lord says is right. May we run in confidence towards glory. We will not be disappointed.