Is there anything sinful about desiring significance in life, to be noticed, to rise to a level of accomplishment, or to seek a sense of meaning? Or are we to live a more monastic lifestyle in the shadows far from the spotlight? Furthermore, is there a godly balance that must be struck, one that recognizes reaching goals while at the same time understanding the true purpose of life? JR Vassar, in his excellent book Glory Hunger: God, the Gospel, and Our Quest for Something More analyzes these questions in a biblically sound and relevant manner.
Vassar aptly notes at the outset of this book that “we are hardwired to ascribe glory and praise to what we deem impressive…Giving glory is a natural human response to witnessing greatness, which is why our world is infatuated with celebrities.” I remember as a teenager being in awe of Michael Jordan and is seeming ability to defy gravity. Such physical feats were truly impressive resulting in much fame and notoriety for Michael Jordan. What kid did not desire at some point to “be like Mike”? Taken to an unhealthy extreme, such glory hunger and glory seeking can lead to idolatry.
I appreciated that Vassar begins his discussion of glory in the Garden of Eden. We find in Genesis that man is the pinnacle of God’s creation. Humanity was made in the image of God. We were created to have dominion over creation which means we were not created to sit on our hind ends and to achieve nothing. God created us to be significant, to pursue a goal, and to find value in life. Vassar aptly comments that the very good of creation was impacted by sinful desires to wrongly seek glory in a way that placed the creation over the Creator. Furthermore, “the beauty we were made to reflect is obscured by our inner corruption.” We long for the day when that original construct of properly placed and understood glory will be restored.
Vassar spends the majority of this helpful book outlining areas where glory hunger gets out of control in our lives. In addressing these pitfalls, he provides the reader with the biblical perspective and response to dealing with glory seeking gone awry. For example, when the temptation arises to be narcissistic, Vassar saliently notes that God often uses “hard words to snap us back into reality by forcing us to contemplate the end of everything that would compete with God for glory.” When we glory in our athletic ability to the point where it becomes our Baal (master/god), God can certainly provide us a quick reminder of the finite nature of our fragile bodies. Given time, our ability to hit that home run or catch that football pass goes away. If our sense of belonging is found solely in those pursuits, we have a problem. If we use those God-given abilities for His glory, then we have things in a proper perspective.
Ultimately, we are created to glorify God and He will not be denied the glory properly due His name. Vassar calls God’s people back to a place of seeking God and His glory rather than puffing up our own fame. In the closing chapter of this book, Vassar declares, “We need glory-hungry people who seek glory for others and not for themselves. This world needs men and women who love most what is most lovely, and who can fearlessly invite their neighbors to reorient their lives toward ultimate reality and move in step with the course of the universe.” Moving in step necessitates living a life that glorifies and seeks the glory of the Creator of that universe.
In a day when there is such a great deal of pride and personal glory-seeking, Vassar’s book is a needed corrective. Even within Christian circles there is the temptation to build one’s kingdom and to seek recognition and glory for instance in how popular your blog is or how many people read your latest post or how many books you sell, or the size of your church membership. I highly recommend this book for all believers given we all need a reminder that God’s glory is what we should seek and in the course of our lives and reaching for the goals God has set for us. To God be the glory and to Him alone is all praise and honor!
This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.