It's State of Origin time again, and what a way to start the series - glory for Queensland! And glory is what we want in our heart of hearts isn't it? Whether the glory of a win for our sports team, the glory of a successful endeavour, the glory of being part of a team or family unit that is functioning well or the glory of enjoying a good meal. We desire glory, and there's nothing wrong with that. The experience of glory and joy are closely related.
But the path to glory is complicated. Even for the Queensland team, there was preparations before the game and then the efforts during the game to come out with an eventual joyful victory. Sometimes life can feel pretty chaotic and we wonder if glory will be the end of the story anyway. What is the path to ultimate glory? Can we expect to make it there? Is the path to glory about steam-rolling anyone or anything that hinders our forward advance, or is there another way?
Humility Comes From Knowing There Is a King
In Philippians 3:10-11, Paul gives us an insight into the path through to glory that he has found:
'I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection ... attaining to the resurrection from the dead.'
Paul had come to know that Jesus was the King of God's ultimate Kingdom - the Christ, the one anointed by the Holy Spirit to rule. That was good news for Paul, because it meant that glory was assured. Jesus had risen from the dead, and this guaranteed the fact that there would be a general 'resurrection' of every person and in fact of the whole creation.
Though things might look hopeless in the world around us, the resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees that there is a good end to the story possible. The very best moments in the world are just a glimmer of the full glory to be revealed at the end of time, when everything is restored. But the kicker is, that the only way to share in that resurrection life, is to also share in the path of suffering that Jesus walked.
Humility Is The Path To Glory
The full quotation from Paul goes like this:
'I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.' (Philippians 3:10-11)
We might wonder who would want to participate or lit. fellowship in sufferings. Even more, why would we want to become like Jesus in his death?
The answer comes when considering the countercultural narrative we are introduced to with Jesus. Whereas our human nature and the world around us tend to look for glory now, while quietly accepting that there will be suffering later. In Jesus we see a different pattern: suffering now, with the hope of glory to come. Jesus didn't allow himself to be conformed to this world, but instead he perfectly conformed himself to his Father's will. He broke through the pressure of the world to live for self in pride and self-confidence, and instead Jesus lived for God's Kingdom, even onto death. That's why he is worthy to be lifted up as the King of that Kingdom.
But the wonderful (and scary) news is that Jesus invites us to come with him to glory, the greatest glory, by following the path of suffering and rejection that he embraced. We are to humbly trust that Jesus is the Christ, the King, and follow him wherever he leads us, no matter the cost now. Because we know that he will lead us to God's Kingdom and the resurrection life in the end.
How Do We Know We'll Make It To Glory?
In our worse moments, we might wonder how we'll carry on. There will be tastes of glory and of the power of God along the way in following Christ Jesus, but sometimes it can all feel too much to continue a path of suffering and humility before our King. What then?
It would seem for Paul that it's all about small steps. The more he walked with Jesus, the more he had to let go of things he thought were valuable and worthwhile. But the great thing was for Paul, the more he let go of this world, the more he found tastes of the Kingdom to come through Jesus. That more than made up for what he had lost and so he was spurred on. Then as he was asked to give up more and suffer more in following Jesus, the more joy he found. It made him more and more confident about the glory of the resurrection age to come and that just fuelled his hunger to keep pressing deeper and harder after Christ.
So really it's about the next step. It's about allowing God to build our vision for a life conformed not to the fleeting glories of life now, but to be captured up for a life lived free of the pull of this world, fully set on the world to come with God's King. Is there a way that God is calling you to have your life conformed to the death of Jesus today?
About the Author
Jai Wright is a Christian Minister, who founded and leads MAKE Church in Mackay, Qld. He recently published the book, Life Plugged In: Connecting with the Source of Peace, Power and Purpose.
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