Glory & Excellence

2 Peter 1:3b, “Knowledge of Him who called you to His Own glory and excellence...

Key Question: Why did God create us? What do we exist for?

Well, the snake promised Adam and Eve—and promises us—that we could be just like God and know all we need to know if we break away from God’s heavy-hand and embark on the journey of self-discover, self-fulfillment, self-realization, self-awareness, self-absorption, self-interest, self-love, self-self-self-self…

That snake…he’s a real snake.

But he draws us in because every one everywhere has desired to “mingle with the divine.” We want experiences of ecstasy, and so follow the hedonists, ancient and modern; or, experiences of the higher-mind, and so follow the philosophers, ancient and modern.

We fear missing out. We have performance anxiety. We invest in performance enhancements. We want to experience “the flow” and know the clarity of excellence.

Christians baptize this urge. We value worship-concert feelings more than local church relationships. Or we prize a sense of doctrinal righteousness over the enduring Christian values of humility in diversity.
But it’s the same urge: for glory—that is, the experience of overwhelming divine beauty—and for excellence—that is, the clarity of a unified and ordered self.
Peter is writing to people who know what they need to know: “though you know them,” 12. But they may be forgetting. So he calls them to effort, to supplement their faith, to the journey of faith becoming love.

But why should they? Because as we get to know God in Christ, through the journey of our developing faith, we don’t just become “more loving,” or “better Christians.” No, we enter the glory and excellence of God Himself: “He has called you to His own glory and excellence.”

That which all humans everywhere have desired, sought, brushed up against but never entered, the Father of Jesus holds out to us in the disciples’ journey.

This is what we were created for.
What is this “glory and excellence” that may become part of our lives? The answer has two parts: God calls us to what is His, that is, to see it and worship; but also, God calls us to receive it, to enter, to participate in some wonderful way.

God calls us to His own gloryFirst, this means that He invites us to see His beauty.
What is beauty? It is a word we use to describe the merging of wisdomloveability, and soul. A beautiful painting captures the artist’s wisdom in planning and arranging the piece, his love for his subject and for the viewer, his ability with ink and brush, and something else: his unique self. Beholding God’s glory is seeing the beautiful merging of His unfathomable wisdom, His cruciform love, His omnipotence, and that strange, wonderful surprise that flavors everything God does. To see this is to delight and worship and rest in God.

But God calls us to enter and partake of His glory—to feel the feeling He always has of His being such a God. To know as our own the safety, joy, love, and eagerness of God. Paul prays for us to “be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph 3:20) That’s this. Jesus says, “The glory that You have given Me, I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and You in Me.” (John 17:22-23) That’s this.

And God calls us to His own excellence. This means, again, to see how trustworthy God is. It means to benefit from the hard work He’s done in doing all things well. It means to relax in His perfect will. It means to obey full of hope. It means to appreciate the precision with which He acts from the unity of His will. It means to know the weight of the goodness of the fact that all things are from Him, and through Him, and for Him.

And, likewise, it means that we are to enter this, to receive it into ourselves. That we too might find our inner selves unified around an identity: being in relationship with God. And that we too might find our outer worlds reshaped by the security of His clarity. No one likes to see a spider, but you like to see the spider rather than not see it! (There’re few things worse than knocking the spider off the wall and not finding it!) So the excellence of God, His orderliness, unity, precision, and effectiveness, brings shalom as it enters our hearts. Though all appears to be chaos, we know bone-deep the truth of His excellence and so may navigate with a strange ease.
Big Idea: The journey of faith brings us into God, and brings God into us. Main Point: the essential human longing is satisfied only by Christ, in the journey of faith in Him.

And, finally, as we circle around these few verses, we arrive again at Peter’s purpose: receive the call of the Father, to His own glory and excellence, no matter what efforts or how much effort, it takes.

Photo by Jonathan Pielmayer on Unsplash