I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of glory. The Bible teaches that Christians are uniquely glorious, because we possess the glory of Christ. The glory that allows us to stand in the presence of God is not a glory that we innately produce. Rather, it’s the glory of Jesus Christ he shares with us.
In the High Priestly Prayer found in John 17, Jesus says he will give his glory to his disciples. Later in 1 John 3:2, the Apostle says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
I want to make this clear: God sharing his glory with us does not make us God. It’s another beautiful outworking of the gospel. Even though God’s holiness and righteousness and glory make him unapproachable by sinful men and women, God covers us with his glory, so we can withstand his presence. When we encounter God in eternity, we won’t become him, but we will be like him. We will be surrounded by his glory!
But that doesn’t mean we’re not producing our own glory as well. In eternity, all Christians will be surrounded by and participating in the glory of God, but we will also retain a uniqueness about our glory. Today, you are producing a glory that is unique to you.
In 2 Corinthians 4, we encounter a verse that discusses the relationship between our present suffering and our future glory. Verse 17 says, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
Paul is building a word picture of a balancing scale. On one side of the scale is every terrible thing you have to endure in your lifetime. On the other side of the scale is the glory you will experience in eternity. And according to Paul, compared to the glory we will experience in eternity, our struggles and difficulties in this life are of little consequence.
But there’s something else I want us to see in this passage: The connection between our present suffering and our future glory.
Paul said this light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. Paul didn’t say our afflictions are preparing us for glory, but our afflictions are preparing glory for us. In other words, when we persevere through this life with faith and obedience to Jesus Christ, that day-by-day faithful endurance is actually producing glory for us.
After Jesus returns, in our final, eternal state, Christians will participate in the glory of God he shares with us, but we will also possess our own unique glory. We will wear a garment of splendor that was woven into the fabric of glory by our faithful endurance on earth. That means every trial you face today has meaning. Your faithfulness in the midst of your struggles is producing a radiant garment of splendor for you in eternity.
Written by Daniel Carpenter, chaplain at Calder Woods, a Buckner senior living community in Beaumont, Texas.