Have you ever noticed how certain flowers are drawn toward the sun? Sunflowers are particularly known for this. When the flower first begins to appear in early summer, it actually follows the sun from east to west every day. The young flower needs as much sunlight as it can possibly get to grow and produce seed.
What is intriguing about this to me is that the flower is drawn simply by the heat and light of the sun. Scientists performed experiments by using a fake sun—a bright, hot light in an enclosed room. The plants responded to the fake sun exactly as they did to the real sun. In one experiment, scientists kept the fake sun overhead all day. After several days, the plants stopped their east to west rotation and remained pointed overhead all day.
One of Jesus’ favorite forms of teaching was through parables—taking everyday natural occurrences and showing how they taught spiritual lessons. I think there are many lessons to learn from the simple sunflower. Just as the sunflower is drawn to the sun, so the human heart is drawn to the glory of God.
The glory of God is most often represented in Scripture as a bright, shining light. This is God’s glory that was revealed when Moses completed the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38) and when Solomon completed the Temple (2 Chronicles 7:1-3). In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem noted that “God’s glory is the created brightness that surrounds God’s revelation of himself” (p. 220).
The Bible describes three ways that God’s glory is revealed to us. We find the first of these in passages like Psalm 19:1-6 where the Psalmist talks about God’s creation declaring God’s glory. We’ve all experienced this when our breath is taken away by the beauty of a sunset, the grandeur of a mountain range, or the vastness of outer space. In Romans 1, Paul tells us that the created world teaches us about God.
God’s glory is also revealed through Scripture. While the created world is a persistent preacher of God’s glory, it is limited in its ability to describe God. In Scripture God declares, “This is who I am, and this is what I am like.” Make sure you catch the emphasis here—Scripture is first and foremost about God, not about us. As Scripture expounds God’s glory, it is much more precise than nature alone.
Finally, the third way that God’s glory is revealed is through the Son of God, Jesus Christ. In John 1:14-18, the Apostle John tells us that Jesus became flesh so that He could make the Father known. In Jesus Christ we see the unfiltered glory of God. We see God’s glory as Jesus teaches and explains truths. We learn more as we see Jesus touch and heal lepers (Mark 1:40-44), embrace the young children who come to Him (Mark 10:13-16), and weep at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35). But the ultimate display of God’s glory was in the events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
Sunflowers flourish as they are face-to-face with the sun. Believers flourish as we are face-to-face with God’s glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). So, let’s make much of the glory of God. Let’s learn to look for His glory in creation and in His word, but especially in His Son. Let’s bask in this glory every day. And as we do, we’ll find change and growth in our lives—which will bring more glory to our Father.