Friday, May 20, 2011

Glory & Belief: Live for the Right Glory & You Will Believe in Jesus

This morning in my quiet time I meditated on Jesus' words in John 5, especially verses 19-46. The chapter begins with the story of Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath which raised some issues for the Jews, issues which were heightened when Jesus explained himself as follows: "My Father is working until now [God is working on the Sabbath], and I am working" (v 17). With these words the Jews sought all the more to take his life because (1) in their view he broke the Sabbath and (2) in calling God his Father he was "making himself equal with God."

So Jesus expanded his thoughts. "Truly, truly I say to you, the Son of Man [Jesus] can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing" (vv 19-20). And then again a few verses later, "I can do nothing of my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me" (v 30).

In other words, Jesus was living for the glory of his Father rather than his own, and therefore he lived his life in submission to the Father. He lived his life without regard to the approval of others (vv 34, 41) because the smile of God already rested upon him. What more did he need?

With this in mind, Jesus asked the Jews a very penetrating question: "How can you believe when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?" (v 44).

Hmm. If you sought the glory of God you would believe but since you seek the glory of others you do not believe--powerful thought.

When we seek "the glory of one another" we are seeking the glory of ourselves. In other words, we are longing for people to think and speak well of us that we might be exalted in their sight. We are taking our sense of being and worth from the fickle praise of men and women, and since we are the center of our own affections we cannot believe in God who is the Center of all things. Our quest for personal glory blinds us to the glory of the only God and his Son, Jesus Christ.

However, the reverse of this is also true. If we will humble ourselves before our Creator and live for the glory of him who gave us life, we will gain eyes to see his glory, believe that he is in fact the only God, and believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, whom he sent as Lord and Savior of the world.

Live for the right glory and you will believe in Jesus Christ. How do we do that?

(1) To live for the glory of God is to seek the face of God. It is to strive to know God as he is, regardless of our pre-commitments or preconceptions. It is to humble ourselves before the God who is much greater than this universe in which we live.

(2) To live for the glory of God is to listen carefully to God. Jesus did what he saw the Father doing and he said what he heard the Father saying and he judged as he discerned the Father was judging. And the reason he saw and heard and discerned was because he took the time to listen and listen carefully. Because the Father loved him, the Father shared all things with him. When we seek God in truth he will lavish this same love upon us but we must be persistent and patient for his ways are not our ways. There is no way to live for the glory of God if we do not learn the art of listening to God. So read the Bible often and learn to listen well.

(3) To live for the glory of God is to do and say whatever he asks of us. Having seen, heard, and discerned, Jesus then acted by the grace and power of his Father. In love the Father made his will known to the Son. In love the Son did the will of the Father. This same dynamic holds true for all who would live for the glory of God--listen and then do by his grace, for his glory, and because of his love.

(4) To live for the glory of God is to enter into the joy of God. Jesus sought not the glory that comes from others but the glory that comes from God, and he implied by his question that others should do the same. To seek the glory that comes from God is to seek the smile of God, the approval of God, the blessing of God, the testimony of God that we are truly in him and he is truly in us. It is to live for his glory manifested in us. And when the glory of the Father rests upon us like this, we will have a fullness of joy.

God wants our joy more than we want our joy but he knows that the path to that joy is living for his glory rather than ours.

Oh Father, please grant us the grace this day, through Jesus Christ, to live for your glory and believe. And as we learn, faltering on the way as we will, please increase your joy in us. For the glory of your mighty name I pray, amen.

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