The Free Gift of Our Greatness
Where does the Christian find his or her identity and sense of worth? From a career... relationships... a ministry? This is too often the case. However, Jesus pointed us away from the realms of outward accomplishments and the honor of man to the inward encounter with the burning affections of God's heart as a means of discovering our true identity and sense of significance.
God has given us something amazingly powerful in the fact that He desires and pursues us. He has given us the free gift of greatness. Everyone that is born again by the blood of Jesus, in receiving eternal life, the gift of righteousness, and the indwelling Spirit, has received the free and eternal gift of greatness and success automatically at the new birth. When we said yes to the grace of God, Hebrews 2:7-9 says that God crowned us with glory and honor. In that hour we became great beyond exaggeration, and the Lord ordained that the fact of this new identity would profoundly change the way we view ourselves.
What the Scripture says about those that have been crowned with glory and honor is profound. The least believer is high above the highest angel in privilege. Beloved, we are the bride of Christ, and will rule and reign with Him forever in resurrected bodies. We are the sons of the most high God forever. The angels don't have any of these dimensions as a part of their experience. Imagine how the thief on the cross felt when he stepped over the line of death into Paradise. I can imagine he said something like this, "If I had known I was a king, I would never have been a thief!"
I don't believe the angels have gotten over it yet, that human beings made of clay, some of whom were fraternizing with demons, or living in rebellion, disobedience, or perversion, can be so set free, so cleaned up, so crowned with glory, and that they alone would be invited into intimate partnership and intimate fellowship with God Himself. I think they are still looking at us, and at each other, and saying something like, "How do you figure this?!"
One of the great challenges of our growth in the grace of God is to progressively discover the greatness and beauty that we possess in the new birth. Paul states that our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3), and this is the essence of the challenge. The greatness and beauty that we received as a gift is veiled, hidden from our eyes and the eyes of those before whom we live. God sees our greatness, of course, as do the angels, but the full dignity of our lives is significantly hidden from us, and we cannot know it fully until the Lord is revealed to us in fullness, and we see Him face to face. It is a magnificent adventure, a romance beyond imagination, to go on the journey of a lifetime spent discovering the significance God has placed upon us. The unfolding of this romance is meant to empower us to live a life of extravagant obedience to Him.
I believe this tremendous experience of the divine romance, understanding and discovering His beauty and our beauty, His passion awakening our passion, is the highest motivational strategy the Holy Spirit has ordained for the end time church. It is this discovery that empowers us to love our lives not even unto death. We will stand in the face of martyrdom by the grace of God with a lovesick heart motivated by passion and pleasure, a heart steadfast, a heart on fire, supernaturally empowered by these truths, and by the Holy Spirit.
This is what Jesus came to establish for us at the Cross in the atonement. If we can understand this issue of greatness related to salvation, it would also settle a lot of our anxiety to achieve a greatness outside the grace of God, even in the midst of ministry. It is the most natural thing for us to strive to achieve our sense of worth or success based on external recognition. However, this type of outcome-based living will never replenish and sustain our hearts. In the end, it leaves us broken and hurting, because we cannot control the outcome of every situation which affects this kind of identity. So how do we re-orient our hearts from this performance- or outcome-based identity to a true biblical sense of worth? Jesus admonished the Pharisees that they needed to experience the love of God, and thus discover the honor that comes from Him alone.
In John 5:38-44, Jesus sets forth stunning principles as to how He carried his heart in the realm of man because He had experienced the love of God, and knew who He was in God's eyes. In verse 38, He tells the Pharisees plainly that His Word is not abiding in them. This seems a shocking statement, as the Pharisees were, to others, men mighty in the Word. However, they had biblical information, not living understanding. They had searched the Scriptures, Jesus said, but they were not willing to come to Him that they might have life. In other words, Jesus is saying they have studied the Bible with the presupposition that Bible information in itself gives an encounter with eternal life. Of course, we know this is false. Eternal life is a person, the Godhead. Then, in verse 42, he says something very powerful - that they do not have the love of God in them. He says this in the context of speaking about receiving honor from men. Why did Jesus connect an experience of the love of God with receiving honor?
Very simply put, there is only one place we can discover our worth, and know the true honor that has been bestowed upon us, and this place is the realm of encounter with the love of God. In Ephesians 3:18, Paul talks about the height, width, depth, and length of the love of God. He says it is incomprehensible; no one can fully comprehend it in this age. The main problem with the Pharisees is that they did not have living experience with this ultimate reality, the vast ocean of the burning desires of God's heart. They had no chance of living right. They were disconnected from the only place of discovery of who they were. They had no choice but to seek the honor of men. We cannot repent of seeking honor, it is part of who God made us to be. But true honor that satisfies the soul can only be found in knowing who we are before God.
In 2 Peter 1:17, Peter is talking about the mount of transfiguration of Matthew 17. It is many years later, and Peter says that on the mount Jesus received from the Father honor and glory. When did Jesus receive from the Father honor and glory? When the voice came to Him, saying, basically, I love you, I love you, I love you! This honor prepared Jesus in His humanity for the crucifixion. The way that God chose to prepare Jesus, in His human weakness, for the crucifixion was by giving Him the revelation of His honor and His glory. This is the same way the Father feeds our hearts, and sustains us in times of trial and tribulation - by telling us what we look like to Him. When God wants to get someone free from an addiction, He tells them how awesome they are!
Encounter in the secret place of your life with the God of love, where He will reveal His burning heart of pleasure over you, and show you your destiny as the partner of Jesus Christ forever is the only method God has chosen to establish your sense of worth. My personal ministry could disappear in the next few months, or I could reach hundreds of millions, and it would not affect the essential greatness of who I am before God when I stand before Him. God is not going to look at how big the crowds are, or how many people listened or did not listen. He will look at whether I said yes to His love, and became a lover of God. When I stand before God, He is not going to ask me how big the conferences were. He will not ask me how well I preached, or wrote books. He is going to ask us about the realm of love. He will say, 'I loved you. Did you receive it? Did you respond back to Me in love?' Love will be the only currency we take with us to the eternal city. We are loved and we are lovers, therefore we are profoundly successful.
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