Last Sunday night, one of our elders, Denton Kimbrough, led a prayer in our worship assembly and he used a phrase that immediately struck me. He prayed:
Lord, help us to live like Jesus…and help us to love like Jesus.
As soon as he prayed these words, I was deeply moved. This simple and heartfelt expression struck me as something deep and significant. It’s a succinct summary, much like Jesus and his four-word dissertation on ethics and worship: Love God, Love Others. I love it because it’s a well worn phrase, prayed and lived out over years, battle tested in the trenches of life. I appreciate the pray-er as much as the prayer; Denton is a tremendous example of the seamless connection between love and life that Jesus preaches and practices.
At our church, we’ve recently been talking a great deal about the glory of God. It’s a bit of an elusive topic: what exactly are we saying when we refer to “glory” anyway? (The Hebrew word for glory — kavod — implies a sense of weightiness; thus the Hebrew teaching that the glory of God is so heavy that if Moses were to behold it, he would be crushed underneath its weight in Exodus 33.) The glory of God also shows up all over the place in Scripture…in narrative, in liturgy, in poetry, in instruction. Nearly every page of sacred text has something to say about the glory of the Almighty.
But this is only the half of it; His glory is seen repeatedly in our lives as well. Our study has led me to the conclusion that the glory of God is around us all the time, in ways we’re scarcely beginning to realize. David says the heavens declare the glory of God. My translation: the universe is dripping with God residue. Evidence that He’s been here, proof that He’s coming again. And David also confesses that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. With no knowledge of cellular activity and atomic material, David professes a reverence for the intricate wonder of human life. So whether we gaze outward into the highest heaven (macro) or inwardly to the double helix (micro), we discover a God who is “out in front”, ahead of us before we arrive, wherever we arrive. And this is glorious. Lord, give us eyes to see…
As elusive and impalpable as His glory seems to be, there is also a deeply practical connection found in the Scriptures, a link between His magnificent glory and the ordinariness of our every day lives. It is no accident that page 1 of our Bibles teaches our identity as Glory-Bearers in the cosmos, reflecting the image of the glorious Creator God in the world. How does this happen? In the most ordinary of circumstances: at the dry cleaners, on the subway, in line at the deli, driving in traffic, feeding our kids. Each moment is infused with Gospel-possibility because of the redemptive and reconciling work of Christ, the One who bids us to taste new life as new creations (2 Cor. 5.17). We move forward in love, patiently enduring and keeping no record of wrongs, among other things (1 Cor. 13).
We follow Him with an awareness that love risks much.
We follow Him, although living like Jesus necessarily means dying like Jesus.
But we’re committed to this Life as the Abundant Life.
Looking for a New Year’s resolution for 2012? A new phrase to live by? A neat thought for your devotional reading tonight? You can’t do much better than this: What would it look like for me to live and love like Jesus?