Being Fully Alive & The Glory of God

"Gloria Dei vivens homo” proclaimed St. Irenaeus, the second century Bishop of Lyons. It translates generously to “the glory of God is men and women who are truly alive.” He, with great enthusiasm, declares that God is glorified by people like you and me who are fully alive human beings – fully enlivened by divine love flowing in and through our lives. In becoming truly human, our love-filled lives become the adornment of the Father, even if only a pale reflection of the splendor of God Himself.

In Revelation 4 we have an awe-inspiring depiction of the throne room. The portrayal of great splendor and brilliance of Jasper, carnelian and a rainbow resembling an emerald. Interestingly enough, there were twenty-four thrones for twenty-four elders with crowns of gold and robes of white, and they fell before the centre throne and worshipped God.

What a glorious picture of the adornment of God encircled by His crown jewel of creation – restored and reconciled humanity! I wonder if this is what Irenaeus had in mind when he thought about fully alive human beings? The journey of love, towards the fullness of what it means to be human.

Human beings are human beings biologically. We also talk about people being less than human when they commit heinous acts of cruelty as illustrated by historical brutality, exploitation, and genocide. If people can be considered less human, does it stand to reason that humans may become more human through love: courage, mercy, justice, forgiveness, integrity, generosity, creativity, community and so forth? The foundation of love shapes and influences our thoughts and ultimately our actions. Love is the true test of our faith and St. John of the Cross affirms the centrality of love when he writes, “For it is love alone that unites and joins the soul with God.”

(a brief excerpt from Becoming Love. Avoiding Common Forms of Christian Insanity)

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