Father, I want those you have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because you loved Me before the creation of the world. — John 17:24
What do I want most? For me, there are so many things. I want a few silly, shallow things: I need my car washed right now, and I would love a new iPhone (mine was recently dropped in the bath), a night out with my husband, or a night to catch up on TV. I want deeper things such as close friendships, to be someone my kids want to emulate, and for my words to make a difference.
But what do I want most? What’s the deepest desire of my soul? I cannot name it, but I am certain it centers entirely around me, a selfish desire to be important or appreciated, to “matter” or “be seen.” Something like that.
What does God want most?
I’ve always known the answer, though I’ve never known what the answer meant. I certainly never knew what the answer meant for my life.
God is most after His glory. Glory: it is a vague and mysterious word. John Piper defines God’s glory as “the holiness of God put on display.”1 It’s who God truly is, revealed so you can see and taste and feel Him, and in turn fall flat on your face.
JESUS PRAYED ANYTHING
When Jesus went to meet and plead with His Father before facing death, one word fell off His lips over and over again. He prayed for God’s glory. He longed for it. He said He had spent His life on earth building and displaying it. Nothing mattered more to Him before His death than God showing Himself through Jesus and through us.
Even as I write these words today, I wonder if I honestly care. I can barely obey God without thinking, What will it cost me? I don’t want to think that way. Left to myself, I am just that selfish. I want things. I want comfort and fun. I don’t want to suffer. I want things to feel in control. Today I don’t want to be typing and studying about God’s glory — I’d rather be at Target or on Facebook.
What if we wanted what God wanted most? What if we wanted, like Jesus, God’s glory above every other thing?
What if the true motive of my life and my heart were to make God known for a few years on this earth?
Jesus prayed this prayer:
Father, glorify Yourself through Me. Glorify Yourself through them. — John 17, paraphrased
Everyone sitting with Jesus that night felt the weight of that call, which was so large, so costly, so significant: the call to show the glory of God to the earth.
Jesus went on to pray,
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word… I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world. — John 17:20, 11 ESV
A few men meant to display God. Eventually, most of them were killed for this call.
Friends, we’re up. Those men are gone. Now we show God. We show His glory.
COMPELLED BY GLORY
We wake up every day to a world that needs us. All people everywhere are waking up and setting their feet on the earth, with their own responsibilities likely defined by whether their feet land on tile or wood or carpet or dirt.
But we all wake up and put our feet down every day, and we move through our time here according to the rules, expectations, demands, and hopes of our given space in this world. The given place in which I grew up issued a script that spelled out a life lived near family, in a safe neighborhood where you had a fence and cute curtains, and where life wasn’t too hard, especially if you loved Jesus.
But Jesus prayed this for me and all of us who would come to know Him:
You are not of this world, Jennie. You don’t belong here. You are going to put your feet down every morning in this world, but you don’t belong to it. You don’t adhere to its rules and expectations. You don’t even hope for the same things. Because you know Me and you are Mine, your home, your hope is with Me forever. Your expectations are that your short life here is spent on My mission even if it is costly. Because you know it is short.
If we pray anything, we will all, like Christ, be called to give up this life and things we love. We will be called to risk for His glory. Christ never intended for those who walked with Him to feel comfortable and safe. This was meant to be a risk-it-all pursuit. The glory of God will be made great on this earth, but what a privilege to be part of His plan to restore it.
Our God is compelling. He is asking us to go compel people to Him. To compel means to have a powerful or irresistible influence in the lives of others.
Many of us don’t do this much. We avoid compelling anyone to God because it may feel cheesy or annoying. Well then, we have to find ways to compel that aren’t cheesy or annoying. The problem with this new generation and their endearing disgust for “faking it” is that they run from church and organized religion. So we’ll have to take God to them in a way that’s real.
When my husband and I prayed anything with God’s glory in mind, it all started to make sense. It all started to be real. Authenticity came without trying. What we once did in order to “matter” or to “be seen” we forgot all about. We matter and are seen because of God’s love for us. Because there is an object to our actions, we move and love and restore, not so we matter but because we have been moved, loved, and restored by God.
Radical acts were not the goal; we were moved by a Person, in love with Christ. And out of that love came a willingness to trust and hand over our lives. Out of that, Jesus, because He is merciful, led us to the unique places where we would each give our lives away.
It spread in our church. Couples started praying anything with abandon. Hundreds of children were sponsored, friends relocated to impoverished neighborhoods to spread the Gospel, families adopted and fostered. Others downsized their homes to give, reconciled with family members, forgave and pursued unity in our church, and let go of this life, longing to give themselves away in forgiveness and mercy because of Jesus. Because of His forgiveness and mercy. Because of His glory. Seeing it come to life is the highest goal of the anything prayer.
Do you struggle with forgetting about God as you go through your day-to-day life? What can you practically do to remember the supreme importance of God’s glory each day?
Have you been burned by legalism? How can you avoid communicating legalism to your children, those you know, or loved ones who are growing in faith?
Why is God beautiful to you?
How do you think God might be calling you to start giving Him away rather than just learning about Him?
If you really believe that your life belongs to others as much as to yourself, how does that change your interactions with your family, community, and especially your church?
READ & REFLECT
No other passage shaped this project more than the verses you will be studying today. They recount the ultimate moment of surrender and perspective. Jesus is about to lay down His life for us. He is with His people, and He stops to pray for them. It is as if the heart of Jesus is laid bare before us. We see His thoughts, His goals, His passions, His hopes, and His plans.
Why would you pray anything? Is God worth it?
These verses scream yes to me. I pray you take significant time with these words and let them seep into your thoughts, your goals, your passions, your hopes, and your plans.
Read John 17:1-25.
How did Jesus view His Father? What did He pray for us? What did He believe could happen?
After reading these passages, consider the answers to these two questions:
Who are You, Lord? What do You want for me?
- John Piper, “Rebuilding the Basics: The Centrality of the Glory of God,” desiringGod.org, November 4, 2009, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles /rebuilding-the-basics-the-centrality-of-gods-glory.
Excerpted with permission from Made for This by Jennie Allen, copyright Jennie Allen.
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I love these questions: “Why is God beautiful to you?” And, how do you think God might be calling you to start giving Him away rather than just learning about Him?” Asking what the anything Jesus is asking from us is a bold prayer! But, if we’re serious about Jesus, we’ll start getting radical in our love for Him! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you about doing anything for His glory! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full