“And I ask not only concerning these, but also concerning all who believe in me through their word, that they all may be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I in You, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And the glory which you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one; I in them and you in me, that they may be perfected into one, that the world may know that you sent me and have loved them just as you have loved me. Father, concerning that which you have given to me, I desire that where I am they may also be with me, that they may behold my glory, which you have given to me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world has not known you, yet I have known you, and these have known that you sent me; and I have made your name known to them and will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them and I in them.” – Jesus from John 17:20-26
I was drawn back to these words of Jesus from his prayer in John 17 as I was continuing my study in Ephesians 1:7-12. Paul says that because of God causing the limitless riches of his grace to increase or abound to us, he revealed to us his will because of the connection we have through and in Christ with God.
It is this connection of which Jesus speaks in this prayer. Think about the explosive, radical, and revolutionary implications and direct results of this connection. Because Jesus is one with the Father, and we are one with Jesus, we are in God. The glory which the Father gave to Jesus is the same glory that Jesus gave to all those who have believed his message.
Why then, I must ask, do so many who have believed the message concerning Jesus still have a poor view of themselves? We have been given the SAME glory by Jesus as the Father gave to him. How we view ourselves is so critical with how we live. When Jesus said that he gave that same glory to us, he wasn’t saying that we now have the right to lord it over people or have an air of superiority; rather, he’s saying that the nature and character of God present in the glory given to Jesus has been given to us who have believed. And those characteristics include humility, meekness, and gentleness.
I often think that “glory” is in that group of words that are used often by Christians but their definitions are not well-known. I define “glory” as “enhancing one’s reputation.” So, when I glorify God, I am enhancing his reputation by declaring who and what he is – his character and nature. That is exactly what Jesus has given to all those who have believed the message of the gospel.
Think about the connection created. Even though God is still other, there is an intimate relationship which has direct results and benefits for us. Think about the oneness now possible. Even though God is still other, because of his oneness with Christ, he has allowed us, those who have believed, to enter into and be part of that oneness. This doesn’t make us divine, but it does elevate us to a different plain, a different realm.
As I was growing up, I remember the “otherness” of God being stressed often and vehemently, usually in response to the teachings of “New Age” spirituality or Far Eastern religions with their mysticism. I never had a true appreciation of the nature of the connection and unity between the Father, Christ, and those who have believed the gospel because of the nature of the above reaction until I became an adult. But there is an intimate, an extremely intimate one, connection present for those who believe. We have received the same glory from Jesus as the Father gave to Jesus. It gives me goosebumps just considering it.
As a practical application of all this, while there are multiple reasons why people don’t believe the message of Jesus or that God sent Jesus, what must be included in that is that those who have believed haven’t truly demonstrated unity with each other and with Jesus and the Father which Jesus said would show that God had sent Jesus. This demonstration involves the revealing of the glory of the Father, which was given to Jesus, who in turn gave it to us. And remember, that glory is the character and nature of God.
What too often is demonstrated is that God’s nature and character is more in line with how God related to his creation pre-Christ; the way he did under the old covenant. That way was known as the law, which sin used to bring about death because through it humanity discovered how wretched it truly is but couldn’t do anything about it other than manage it the best way possible – keeping rules and abiding by a strict code of behavior in an attempt to deal with sin.
That didn’t work. So God did something totally different through Christ which was drawing us into unity with them and giving us his character and nature. What I truly find sad is that, for all intents and practical purposes, many Christians still operate under some form of the old way. This is demonstrated by Christian leaders readily pronouncing God’s judgment on people for sin, by which they hope those upon whom the judgment is announced will “come to their senses.” How well did that work for Israel? Why does anyone think it will be any different today?
That’s why God did something totally different. Instead of it being a “him vs. us” relationship, he draws us into himself through Christ so that it’s now “us.” That is something to be celebrated, proclaimed, and demonstrated. This is how we should view ourselves and the identity from which we should live.
May it be so more and more each day, and may, as those around us see the glory the Father gave to Jesus which Jesus, in turn, gave to us and hear about why we have that glory, they be drawn into us which in turn draws them into Jesus which, in turn, draws them into the Father.