1 Kings 19:15–16 (NIV)
The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.
ME: THIS IS THE WAY—
YOU: FROM GLORY TO GLORY!
Hang on! Did Elijah just get fired?
Go back home. Anoint two kings. And while you are at it, anoint your replacement. And it will be an easy transition because the new prophet’s name sounds just like yours. And one more thing, Elijah, I’ll need your keycard and your laptop.
I’m no expert on the biblical Prophets (truth be told I’m not an expert on anything), but I’m not sure I’ve heard of a prophet being fired or decommissioned and replaced. I thought they tended to have some kind of papal like tenure and die in office.
It all seems, . . . rather . . . inglorious.
It is all the more interesting to consider how Jesus characterized his hour of greatest glory came in being lifted up on the cross, the most inglorious seeming moment in human history. Hear him in his own words:
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:23–24)
We will do well to remember what many said of Jesus as he stepped on the stage of his hidden yet public life. You remember when he asked his disciples the question about who do people say that I am. Response #1: “Some say you are Elijah.” And then there was that time when Jesus was on the Mountain with Peter, James, and John. He was transfigured before their very eyes. Remember who appeared there with him? Moses and yes, Elijah!
No, Elijah was not being fired. Like Jesus, he was was being prepared to be exalted. Elijah was being prepared for the ride of his life. He was going from glory to glory.
Yes, I used to want to do great things in the world for Jesus. I had what I thought was a holy ambition. I find myself now simply wanting to be in Jesus for the world—more humble, more hidden, even obscure, reveling in the glory of his glory.
That’s it I think. This way from glory to glory requires us to abandon our former way of thinking about glory. We are so accustomed to thinking of glory as a binary reality: God’s glory and our glory. As a result we think of glory as a zero sum reality—either we get the glory or God gets the glory.
I am beginning to think of glory as a singular reality: the glory of God. Human beings have no glory and any glory they seemingly accrue is counterfeited glory. I am also beginning to think of glory as an infinite sum reality. Because all glory is God’s glory, all glory is eternal in its quality and as a result glory is in no way scarce but unfathomably abundant. In other words, there is enough glory to go around. There is no stealing or usurping the glory of God. It is absurd to believe it is even possible. Here’s the miracle. God freely shares his glory with us, his glorious image bearers.
In the prayer I refer to as the real Lord’s Prayer, Jesus prayed this:
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—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:22–23)
Can I get a retweet? I have given them the glory you gave me . . .
We do not deflect the glory of God. We reflect and refract this glory. We were made for this glory. This is why we must have unveiled faces, so we can behold the glory of the Lord, as in a mirror. This is why we must be transformed into his likeness, from one degree of glory to another. Indeed friends, this is from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (see 2 Corinthians 3:18–20) And all of this brings us to the meaning of the Scripture,
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
You, my friend, have been made a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor. You, dear one, yes you, are an icon of the glory of God.
This is the way—from glory to glory.
Abba Father, this is so much to take in. You have given us your glory. We are dust and breath and glory. Awaken us to see this truth and not just to see it but to come alive in it. Forgive us for thinking your glory is somehow scarce. Awaken us to the iconic nature of our very beings, made to be reflectors and refractors of your glory. It makes us want to sing the last verse of that old Charles Wesley hymn,
Finish, then, thy new creation;
true and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee.
Changed from glory into glory,
till in heav’n we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love and praise.
Praying in Jesus’ name, amen.
How are you dealing with this whole concept of God giving us his glory? Are you ready to stop deflecting and more deeply reflecting and refracting it?
For the Awakening,