The awesome beauty of nature. The innocence of childhood. The security of a world at peace. The exuberance of romantic love. The joy of living life freely and fully.
All of these are noble themes. Great literature, art, and music have all been inspired by them. They capture our emotions and imaginations. They challenge our values and influence our priorities. They reflect universal longings of the human spirit.
But, although uplifting, they fall short of the noblest and greatest theme of all.
A grander theme runs through all of human history, from the instant of creation to this very moment. This theme explains why we're here, why things happen as they do, where the world is headed, and why the world, as we know it, must eventually end. It underlies everything that is, and is the reason for everything that is not. It is the incomparable glory of our God, surely the greatest theme in all the universe!
Jesus Christ was God's glory incarnate. His life was the glory of God on display.
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
Jesus was "man as God intended." This is what it means to say that Christ led a perfect life — He lived a life of total dependence, moment by moment, upon the Father. He was never the source of His own self-sufficiency. That is why God's glory and radiance were uniquely reflected through Him.
"I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.... By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me....
When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him" (Various verses from the Gospel According to John).
On His own, Jesus said He could do nothing. On our own, Jesus said we can do nothing. If we will rely upon and obey Christ in the same way He relied upon and obeyed the Father, then He will be to us what His Father was to Him — an infinite source of wisdom and strength.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.... If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" (John 15:5-8).
We draw strength from Jesus through His spirit who lives within us. Isn't it astonishing that although we have no glory of our own, we can have the very glory of God living within us? It is only through His life-giving power in the believer that we are able to begin living a life pleasing to Him.
"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you....
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him" (John 14:15-17, 21).
The Christian life isn't a religion; it's a relationship. Living with Him, and getting to know Him more and more, is the essence of the Christian life. The more we know Him, the more we love Him. The more we love Him, the more we want to surrender to Him. And the more we surrender to Him, the more we become like Him. That is the nature of Christian maturity.
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).