While I was preparing for last Sunday’s sermon I was arrested, literally taken captive, by a statement Jesus made during His last message to His disciples before heading to the cross. He was praying to His Father for them that they would be protected from “the evil one” (John 17:15). He was not praying for the lost world, but only for His disciples (John 17:9).
But a phrase in Jesus’ prayer stopped me cold in my tracks. He said:
“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them” (John 17:9-10).
It was the last sentence that really got to me. Read it again for yourselves. Slowly.
Jesus said, in effect, that all that is His belongs to the Father and all that is the Father’s belongs to Him. The context of the “all” is Jesus speaking of His disciples, those with Him in the Upper Room and those, you and me, the church, “who will believe in Me through their word” (John 17:20). Jesus was also speaking of His church— the called, chosen, justified and redeemed (Rom. 8:29-30).
But look closely at what He said about His church, about you and me. He said, “I am glorified in them” (John 17:10). That’s not future tense, but present tense. He is glorified, now, in them. He is glorified back then, and also today, in them. He is glorified in the present in them. And the “in them” means, of course, the church. “In them” includes those in the Upper Room and those of you reading this post today. It includes all that call upon His Name for salvation no matter where they live or what local church they attend. It includes all, everyone, who have ever been saved.
And it includes you and me, individually, and each of us, collectively, as the church— whatever local body of Christ we choose to attend.
I Am Glorified
But what convicted me the most was the glorified part. Jesus said He is “glorified in them” or in us. Not will be glorified or maybe, someday be glorified, but He is, right now, glorified in us. How can that be?
The word, glorify means “to bring glory, honor, or praise to someone, to show great dignity, to highly esteem, to celebrate profound worth, to magnify and exalt above all others.” Wow. Jesus said He is all of that in His church and in you and me, right now. I don’t see it. I don’t see it at all.
Do you know why? Because I live, like you, in the Laodicean church age (Rev. 3:14-22) where the prevailing spiritual mindset is embodied in the meaning of the name, Laodicea: “the people rule.” That’s right, we call the shots. We’re masters of our own fate, our own destiny. We’re independent, self-made and proud of it. We refuse to bend our knee to anyone or anything except our own selfish lusts and pursuits. And this carnal attitude is engrafted into our DNA, into the very fabric that makes us who we are.
How can Christ be glorified in a church like that? And, worse yet, how can He be glorified in me when the only glory I seem to seek is my own?
In my flesh, He can’t. There’s no way. It’s an impossibility. There’s nothing I can do on my own to bring Him glory. Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5) and He was talking about bearing spiritual fruit so that “My Father is glorified” (John 5:8). He even goes on to say that we are created, as disciples, “to bear much fruit, (why), so you will be My disciples” (John 15:8). And bearing fruit, according to Jesus, is the greatest evidence of our salvation (Matt. 12:33).
But the good news is that with the Spirit “all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26) and we can move beyond our inherent, diseased DNA and leave the land of Laodicea and strive to live in the wonder of His grace, of His Spirit, in union with the Father, as children of God and “joint heirs of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 8:17). In other words, we can be different than those of the church age in which we live. Things can change. We can change.
“How?” you ask. “How can we be different from all that is around us and all we’ve ever known?”
The answer to that question is the reason this blog exists. Together we will devote our lives to knowing and understanding how to help each other move beyond our apathy, our cultural conformity and moral carnality and embrace the life our Lord designed for us to live. Remember? He called it the “abundant life” found only in Him (John 10:10). Are you living the “abundant life” in Him right now?
If not, I’d say it’s high time to pack your bags and jump on the next bus out of Laodicea. It’s time for all of us to leave Laodicea and never look back.
Are You Ready?
Are you ready? Are you ready to forge ahead into the wild unknown in your life with Christ? Are you prepared to “count the costs” of true discipleship? (Luke 14:28). Are you willing to forsake everything, and I mean everything, for the sake of “knowing Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead”? (Phil. 3:10-11).
Are you ready to live your life for the sole purpose, like Paul, of fighting “the good fight, finishing the race, keeping the faith”? (2 Tim. 4:7). Are you prepared to “suffer hardship as a soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3) and to bear His reproach gladly?
Are you ready to experience an intimacy with the Lord Jesus that is beyond description? Are you ready, maybe for the first time in your Christian life, to be truly one with Him?
If so, rejoice. Because making a commitment, a definite resolution, a sacred vow to forsake your citizenship in the land of Laodicea and move to the promised land the Lord has given you, will open for you a promise of blessing previously unknown to the church for centuries. It’s the promise to the overcomers, the blessing of Ephesians 3:20-21. Read these words with a hunger and anticipation of the glory waiting to be revealed in you and “run with endurance the race that is set before us, (how) looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2).
This, beloved, is your inheritance in Him today when you leave Laodicea.
Now to Him (Christ) who is able to do exceedingly abundantly (or, immeasurably, beyond comprehension) above all that we (you and I) ask or think (or, can conceive in our minds), according to the power (Gr. dunamis – explosive, miraculous, achieving, overcoming power) that works in us (in you and me, in the church), to Him be glory in the church (in us, collectively, as the Body of Christ) by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Eph. 3:20-21).
This is our inheritance, our birthright. Let’s not let the toys and trinkets of this world take it away, shall we?
Will you join me?
Come what may.