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)
“The glory of God is man fully alive.” I don’t know if John Eldredge is to blame or if he is simply the person among many using it, who brought this quote to my attention. It first appeared on my radar in his book Waking the Dead but since that time it seems to be appearing everywhere in ever increasing frequency. Unfortunately, although it is usually being credited where it should, Irenaeus, it is most not certainly being used as it should. This quote has been warped and bent into a defense for a heretical humanistic philosophy that runs completely counter to what that father of the faith was actually saying.
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?” I am glad you asked. 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. Contrary to what some prosperity teachers or atheist philosophers might say, that glory is not found in some personal achievement or the 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.
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.