A person from Portugal recently remarked to me, ‘Once we ruled the earth, now we only have port wine and Ronaldo (arguably the best soccer player in the world)’. The story of Portugal is interesting- how a tiny nation, spurred by visionary rulers, daring discoverers and the most modern navy of its era, went on to rule the seas in the 15th century. Ruling the earth was not too far behind as they established colonies in and developed trade with India, China, Japan, Africa and the Americas. Today on the world scene, Portugal is only a shadow of itself, though with a rich maritime history and the legacy of what once was.
What revels in glory today will inevitably fade. The words of Peter, the apostle in the Bible indicate the same,
“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”And this is the word that was preached to you. (1Peter 1:24)
The vigor of a blade of grass and the beauty of a flower make a majestic appearance on the yard. The perfume, the splash of color, the intricate designs, the attention of the bees and the inexorable growth that is displayed as the flower springs up is nothing short of breathtaking. Yet, a few days later, it shows signs of aging, and the inevitable decay creeps in- the color fades, and the flower goes limp. The bees move on to the next flower and soon the petals shed and the flower is no more.
Man’s life is no different. We enjoy our moment on earth and there is a time when man is at his best, but decline is inevitable. There comes a time when he no longer can run as fast and carry as much load as he used to. And this bothers him. A flower fades but does not think and worry about it. It is the natural order of things. But man’s decline and his mortality troubles him and there is the lingering thought as to if anything could indeed be eternal and permanent.
Peter gives us the solution as well- the word of God that was preached to us and the summation of which points to Christ, who the Bible describes as the embodiment of the word of God. When Christ is invited into one’s heart, he becomes the eternal gift that latches us on to an unfading glory. Man’s glory in what he has and accomplished is but for a moment, but ‘Christ in you is the hope of eternal glory’.
When this assurance floods a man’s heart, meaninglessness is dispatched and every act in one’s life- glorious or not, makes sense, because it fits in to the ultimate story- that of unfading glory made real in Christ.