Lord God and Father, I call upon Thee to enter all the avenues of my life today, and to share every detail of it with me, even as Thou hast called me go share with Thee Thy life, and all the wonders of it. As I am to share the destiny, glory and future affairs of Thy Son, so would I now have Him share this small destiny on earth which is mine, the joys of it, and all its matters, that we should be one, Thou and I, even as we are in Christ. Jim Elliot
Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:21-23
When we put our faith in Christ we are radically and eternally changed. Conversion is infinitely more than signing a card or shaking a hand or even kneeling at an altar. We are united with Christ. The life of God is birthed within our soul. Deadness and blindness are gone. Our eyes are opened to see the glory of God. Our perceptions and affections are radically changed. We are given a new and glorious destiny. We are united with Christ in an awesome, life-changing, soul-satisfying, God-honoring mission.
We have been studying Jesus’ prayer for his disciples. We have seen that he was praying for those he would leave behind when his physical presence would be taken from them. We are included in that prayer.  We also noted that Christ’s intercession is a battle prayer. Being followers of Christ means we are foes of the devil. The enemy can’t destroy us [11-12], but he can distract us. Employing pain and pleasure, his strategy is to prevent us from fulfilling our awesome mission.
Christ knew this. That is why he prayed. We are called to not only to survive, but to thrive. Therefore, he prayed that we would be caught up into the same oneness that exists between the Father and the Son. This new identity is to be the distinguishing characteristic of our lives. We are designed to experience a miraculous existence that is so unique and attractive that unbelievers cannot explain the radical difference in human terms or motives. The only explanation that makes sense is that our confession that “Jesus is Lord” is true.
In verse 22, Jesus identifies the divine catalyst that makes us radically different: “I have given them the glory that you gave me.” We have been given glory. What does that mean? The glory of God is his unique and supreme perfections that set him apart from all that has been created. To “glorify God” is to make the beauty of God manifest. The heavens declare the glory of God. The scriptures define the glory of God. Jesus Christ displays the glory of God. The church diffuses the glory of God. That is why the Westminster divines defined the chief end of man is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” God is so precious that we are to put loving and serving him above all other things so that even our eating and drinking is linked to this grand calling [I Cor 10:31]. The Bible is clear: the glorification of God is the defining purpose for his creating and redeeming work.
So, what does it mean to be “given” the glory of God? Remember Jesus prayed, “I have given them the glory that you gave me”? If Jesus is God and his nature is immutable [unchangeable], what was the glory he was “given” in the incarnation? It can’t mean beauty. Jesus is eternally beautiful. It can’t mean eternal life. He has existed eternally. It can’t mean power. He is the Word who created all things. To answer that question we have to look at the context. Jesus is praying for his disciples and their effectiveness in mission. The “glory” that Jesus was “given” has to do with his mission to earth. So, here is my take. As the Father is the source of the divine plan and purpose and the Son is the willing Servant of the Father’s will, so, we, by the grace of God through the call of Christ, have been drafted into the Father’s awesome plan. We have been given the “glory” of partnering with God through the Son.
Let me try to explain. There is a divine and eternal union between the Father and the Son. Barnes’ commentary puts it like this: “Always, in the creation, preservation, and redemption of the world, the Father and the Son have sought the same object, and this is to be the model on which Christians should act.” So, the “glory” we have been given is the awesome privilege of participating in the Father’s plan to bring him glory through the glorification of His Son. We are one with Christ. His purpose becomes ours. His joy becomes ours. His mission becomes ours. Inwardly, by the work of the Holy Spirit, we are given a passion to bring glory to God. We are linked to God’s commitment to make his beauty manifest. It is not a natural condition. We naturally seek our own glory. But, Jesus, by his grace, has freed us from that wasted lifestyle. Instead, he calls us and works with us to fulfill his mission through us.
Of course, we often do not live up to the glory that resides within us. There are powerful forces working to keep our light “under a bushel.” Inside, the old man that was crucified in Christ suddenly and without warning lifts his ugly head. Outside, we struggle with a world that seeks to beat us down to its low-level of living where lust and lies lurch. If you are like me, you are often surprised and even shocked by the intensity of the fight. We just assume that God living within will automatically power us into being radical witnesses. But, that is not the way God has determined to work with us.
The call to faith is a call to fight. It is not about cruising but more about bruising. It is overcoming one stronghold and then moving on to the next. It is taking every thought captive and making it submissive to the revelation we have received in Christ. [2 Cor 10:4] It is working out what God has worked in with fear and trembling. [Phil. 2:12-13] It is taking up the weapons of warfare and beating back the enemy’s lies with the sword of the Spirit. [Ephesians 6:10-17]. It is preparing our minds for action and taking control over our feelings and emotions. [1 Peter 1:13] It is inviting Christ to be a part of every moment and every experience of every day.
Recently, I woke up in the middle of the night surrounded by a great blackness. I was reminded of my failures and my problems and my perilous position. I “felt” all alone and without hope. Then, I dragged my body out of my bed and made my way to that holy place on the cliffs of Ocean Beach where God had spoken to me so many times before. There, where God so beautifully declares his glory in creation, he declared his glory through his Word. I opened to Romans and the text I had been studying and heard these words: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” [Romans 15:4]
Christ has given us the glorious mission of making his greatness known. It is most clearly seen not on comfortable pews but in uncomfortable pits. When we are surrounded with darkness and it seems like there is no way out, we are not alone. Our mission is linked to Christ. He is the One who “gives endurance and encouragement” [Romans 15:5]. The one who gives us the “glory” of mission is the same one who enables us to display it. Because he knew he was united with Christ in mission, a young Jim Elliot could pray, “Lord make my way prosperous, not that I achieve high station, but that my life may be an exhibit to the value of knowing God.” When that is our passion, when we pray like that, our lives will radiate the beauty of Christ and an unspeakable joy will fill our hearts.
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