Glory Given

Glory Given

I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. (John 17:22-23)

Read: Acts 3:1 – 5:42

Relate: “The glory of God is man fully alive.” This is probably the most famous quote of one of the greatest of the early church fathers, Saint Irenaeus. The problem is, the text has been co-opted by a humanistic, man centered philosophy that is patently unbiblical. I don’t know if John Eldredge was the one to popularize the quote or if he was just the first of many through whom I saw it written or heard it preached. Whatever the case, it seems to be everywhere now. The problem is, the way this quote is being used is at best a misquotation.

Irenaeus wrote:

Gloria enim Dai vivens homo, vita autem hominis visio Dei. Si enim quae est per conditionem ostensio Dei vitam praestat omnibus in terra viventibus, multo magis ea quae est per Verbum manifestatio Patris vitam praestat his qui vident Deum.

The first half of that first sentence, “Gloria enim Dai vivens homo,” Is where we get “The glory of God is man fully alive.” But would more accurately be read, “The glory of God is a living human being.” The second half of that sentence would read “human life is the vision of God.” The full quote in context:

The glory of God is a living human being and human life is the vision of God. For if the revelation of God which is made by means of the creation, allows life to all living in the earth, how much more does the revelation of the Father come through the Word, who gives life to those who see God?

When we backtrack it is clear that the “Word” Irenaeus is talking about is not scripture but rather Jesus. He says,

The Word became the giver of the Father’s grace for the benefit of humankind, for whom he generously provided. In this He truly reveals God to humanity and presents humanity back to God.

React: You might be thinking, “Great. But what does this have to do with anything?” Well, what Irenaeus is talking about in his famous, often misused quote is the very thing Jesus is talking about in His final prayer to the disciples. We are given the glory of God. That glory is not found in some humanistic achievement of reaching our greatest potential. The glory of God is a living human being. His name is Jesus. He has been offered to us as the greatest of gifts.

When we find ourselves not striving to achieve our greatest potential but rather by becoming completely subsumed in, surrendered to, Him. When Jesus is all people see in us, His glory becomes manifest through us. That, and only that, is the glory we have been given.

Respond: 

God, help me never to get the cart before the horse. I want to be everything that I can be. I want to achieve the fullest potential for which I have been created. But that potential, that everything, that… glory, is You. It is only in You and through You that I can be or accomplish anything of lasting worth. It is only when I become lost in You that my life can have an eternal impact. I surrender my dreams, my ambitions, my talents, my gifts all to You. It is only in You that they have any value. Let Your glory be seen through my fully lived life. 

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3 thoughts on “Glory Given

  1. This is interesting. However, I would challenge you on this point (with or without Irenaeus of Lyon) however. I would be careful not to totally dismiss the glory of God in each human being and what we were designed to do even before the Fall. There is a danger, perhaps a grave danger, of spiritualizing what it means to glorify God at the expense of what it means to retake the cultural mandate of the old creation in the new creation. We give glory to God in tangible works (some are honored and some are humble) that point to the life of the Spirit inside of us. I understand not wanting it to be “man-centered” but I would argue that the Gospel is man-centered and God-centered; it is God-centered as in God takes the initiative, does the work, and rightfully gets the glory…but it is man-centered in that he does all of this because of 1) our position in creation, 2) because of our future in the new creation, and 3) because of his great love abounding for wretched sinners. While we are not worth anything in of ourselves, we are beyond value because of the worth God has placed on us. Just a thought.

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