Today I finished a book that I greatly enjoyed but whose review will have to wait until February. Nevertheless, I thought it fitting to discuss at least some aspects of the book in the meanwhile by meditating a bit on what it means to reflect God’s glory by living well in a pocket of His kingdom. Given that we were created in the image and likeness of our Heavenly Father (Genesis 1:26-27), it is a matter of surpassing importance that we reflect that image in the course of our lives once we have turned away from our rebellious ways  and started walking in His ways. It is not that our works save us, but our works are the unmistakeable outward manifestation of the redeemed inner lives that we have. If we are true believers, it will be demonstrated in the fruits of our actions, and we will be visible manifestations of His culture in everything around us.
How do we reflect His glory? For one, we have to realize that we are not the source of the light within us. Recognizing that the source of whatever glory we possess is outside us, and that we are vessels of that external glory places us in a proper position of showing gratitude and appreciation for the gifts that we have been given, an attitude of obedience and submission to our Creator, and an attitude of respect to other bearers of the image and likeness of our Creator. A proper attitude of where we stand in relationship to God helps us to better respect the lives of those around us, as respect for God and a respect of others helps us to reflect His glory rather than show off the arrogance that comes so easily. When we reflect His glory, we become ambassadors of His ways, and help to bring God’s ways into the vision of those around us. We may often try to do this by our words, but it is even more important to do this through our actions, which speak far louder and far more genuinely about our behavior.
We reflect the glory of God by living well. We do not live well on our own merits or by our own strength, nor do we earn anything through our good deeds. Nevertheless, if we are redeemed that redemption will be reflected in our actions. This does not mean that we will instantaneously be changed from where we start out to a life that is wholly righteous. What it does mean is that living well is an organic process that takes years and decades as we develop righteous conduct through practice and it becomes progressively more natural to us, as sin becomes increasingly foreign and unnatural. Sometimes it may take generations for the patterns of sin to be rerouted through obedience to godly ways, and the benefits of a believer’s faith can be felt over many more generations yet (thousands of generations, of the third commandment can be believed). Living well is not merely a matter of checklists and rules, but about living one’s life with an attitude of love towards God and towards others, and letting enough love fill our lives that there is little room for anything else.
And where are we to live well? Primarily, we are to live well in the immediate context of our lives wherever we happen to be. We are to build ties with our local community, to set a good example among our family members, our brethren at church, and our coworkers. It is not through our words but through the integrity and character of our daily lives in the context of the small pockets of the world we happen to be around. Some of us in life may be slightly more nomadic than others, but our faith and lives are to be demonstrated in our lives where we happen to roam as pilgrims and strangers on the face of this earth. Sometimes our pockets of earth may be a small town, sometimes they may be an office, or they may be a congregation. They may be all of the above, or other areas where our example may be seen over months and years and decades of godly living as a monument of our commitment following in the example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Such pockets of God’s Kingdom may seem small, but sometimes the Kingdom of God can be seen most clearly through a smile on a dark day, or the simple acts of kindness and love that fill a godly life.
For it is not only the life eternal where we are to be citizens of His Kingdom. We are called to live as citizens of the Kingdom even as we live in the realms of this earth, and called to develop righteous character in whatever places and niches that have been set aside for us. We may be given great talents but may be called to utilize restraint and develop contentment when we know that we could do better if given the chance, so that we may develop the humility and character to avoid using our talents to exploit others or to look down on others. Sometimes life is more about building the right sort of character rather than to show off the talents and gifts that God has given us. There are times of glory, and times of watering and tending plants that may take years to bear fruit. Yet we await a harvest at the end of our labors in this garden, not for ourselves only, but for a family of faithful.