The Humblest Man Who Ever Lived Prays to be Glorified
If you are like me, the idea of “glorifying” yourself is kind of repulsive. It brings to mind characters like Tony Stark in the Iron Man movies, whose character is summed up when he is being given a medal. Tony is being honored for all of the heroic things he has done for America, but the people closest to him know that he is an arrogant jerk. As he is being pinned, the official pokes him with the pin and says, “It’s amazing how annoying a little prick can be!” It’s hilarious, because Tony is always in it for Tony.
That’s the kind of picture that comes to my mind when I think of someone glorifying themselves.
And here we are in John 17, with Jesus praying for God to glorify him. The Bible is actually full of verses about God wanting to be glorified. Clearly, God isn’t an egotistical jerk, but what’s with all of the wanting to be praised?
This is one of those things that I struggled with but knew that I wasn’t supposed to question. Church people are always excited about “glorifying God” and they sing songs about how in everything they do, they “glorify God”* so I knew I wasn’t supposed to say, “uhhhhmmm how does this not make God a big selfish jerk that just wants to bless people that feed his ego?”
And to be even more brutally honest, it’s a big part of American church culture to believe that if we “glorify, praise, honor, lift up, exalt… (insert synonyms ad nauseum)” God enough, he will give us everything we want. Though the people who are most caught up in this tend to be wealthy because it’s a little harder to pull off the constant denial of reality when you have actual problems. I doubt there are people in third world villages buying into America’s prosperity gospel.
However, there are Christians in third world countries buying into the glorifying Jesus gospel.
Some of the most amazing Christians that I have met throughout my lifetime were the ones who endured great trials and praised God in the middle of them. The migrant couple I worked with who slept on the floor in a one room apartment and were the most grateful people I have ever known. My friends, Mihaela and Deb that I wrote about earlier. My grandmother who was in constant pain at the end of her life… all people who understood the power that we gain from praising God.
I experienced a small reminder of this whole truth this morning:
I woke up in a panic. I have a ton of things going on in my life right now. I was lying in bed making my mental to-do list for the day and then I thought about this article:
GRRRRRR! I don’t even know what to write! Why am I doing this anyway? No one reads my blog. Why is it causing me stress? Then I remembered the people who do read my blog. I prayed for them, for you.. (stupid Tim Tebow!**) and I prayed that you (and me) would know God better. I prayed for us to know Jesus and the love that he showed to the woman caught in adultery and the people who followed him.
As I was praying it occurred to me that the truth is: glorifying God is about knowing him. It’s about getting excited about who he is and wanting others to know him. God loves as all and he wants us to love him back and get others to love him.
He also wants those of us who love him to understand how powerful and protective his love is. In the middle of my panic this morning, I prayed. I remembered that “he’s got this” and while that doesn’t guarantee that everything is going to work out smoothly, easily or like I am planning, he will be with me through it all! He will strengthen me, love me, and work in me.
So, all the crises are still raging around me, but I feel a really weird peace and that’s freaking awesome!
That’s what Jesus prayed for. He prayed that he would be glorified. That God the Father would be glorified. That his disciples would be strengthened for all they were about to endure and that you and I would see his glory and share in it!
God and Jesus are quite confident in who they are, (what with the whole ruling the universe thing going for them and all). They don’t need anything from us. But when we start to praise them and understand who they are, we are transformed.
I hope that transformation in me will somehow lead someone to know Jesus a little more…
Blessings! Thanks for reading!
*I obnoxiously overanalyze EVERYTHING! So, Christian praise and worship songs are a nightmare for me! When I sing worship songs, I have this inner dialog going with God and I tell him, “This is what they are telling me to sing and I don’t want to be contentious, but here is what I really feel…”
In one of my favorite songs, Amazing Love, there is a line that says, “In all I do, I honor you.” Every time I try to sing it, my mind immediately goes to this whole list of things I did that were not God-honoring and honestly a whole list of things that just were…so I try to throw in there “Innnn… allll…. Iiiii…. doooooo…..I try to hoooonooor yoooou!”
** Nothing personal against Tim Tebow (I’ve forgiven him for playing for the Florida Gators…well I’m working on it…) In the forward of Tim Tebow’s book Shaken he prays for all the people that will read his book. I was like, “Stop trying to be so perfect…” LOL and then, “yeah, I should totally pray for the people who read my blog, I personally know most of them !!!”
I say stupid__________ whenever I’m convicted because I don’t like change or growth. I like comfort, ease, and stability!
I am a really strange mix of a hippie, Calypso, Southern Belle, Madea- wannabe, Christian with the attitude of a Rhode Islander! I’m fascinated with people’s stories, I love to laugh at life with people and I’m genuinely trying to follow Jesus’ teachings. Strangely, my search for truth often has me at odds with American Christians who believe themselves to be the guardians of this truth. I was kicked out of Sunday School as a child for asking too many questions. I learned to repress them but my questions never went away. Thankfully as an adult, I feel completely free to pursue answers. Turns out, God is pretty big and not nearly as upset with my questions as his followers tend to be!