To the Only God be Glory
Updated: Jun 1, 2020
I think I would be hard pushed to find anyone who hadn't heard of Johann Sebastian Bach - the great composer. His music is still played and listened to today - 300 odd years after being composed - and I even studied it at A level. But until recently, I never knew much of the musician behind the music.
Bach was born to a family of musicians in Germany, and was sadly orphaned by the time he was ten years old. He attended the same school that Martin Luther attended, and avidly studied the Bible.
Bach worked in many churches, leading choirs, writing music and playing the organ. His cantatas were based on Biblical truths, and were known to help people to learn the Bible through music.
At the end of his manuscripts, Bach would write "Soli Deo Gloria" meaning "To the Only God be Glory." In many ways, this became his motto, and through his work as an accomplished musician and composer, he wanted God to be glorified - whether his composition was a theological work or a light-hearted piece for entertainment.
Growing up, I used to think that certain jobs would lend themselves to being "Christian" jobs; not just vicars, but nurses, teachers - jobs that help people I guess. I like to think that the verse below demonstrates that it doesn't matter what job we have, or what our special talent it - as long as we glorify God while we are doing it.
"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."
It is easy to glorify God when we worship in a church building together. But what about when the church building is closed? What about when life is really rough? Do we have to sing Christian hymns to glorify God? Do we need to have a "Christian job" to work for the Lord?
I think the answer is no.
I believe that we glorify God by using the gifts he has given us, with the strength that he enables, to serve Him and to serve others - wherever that may be. Glorifying God doesn't mean being happy all the time. We glorify God when life is really hard and we still praise His name.
So in the office when a pop song comes on the radio and tells of green trees, red roses and skies of blue, I sing it to God and thank Him for his creation in my heart. When my heart breaks for a friend going through a rough time, I help in the way I know I can - because God has enabled me.
I don't get it right all the time. In fact, I probably don't get it right most of the time. But my desire is that God be glorified in all that I do.
JS Bach was writing music 'to the glory of Almighty God' within four years of becoming an orphan. May we have the courage to glorify God through the good and bad, and walk in the knowledge that He gifts us with strength to cry out His praise even as we cry out our pain.
Soli Deo Gloria
To the Only God be Glory