Do you have a YouTube channel? Are you on LinkedIn? Instagram? FaceBook? Host your own podcast?
This is the age of self-promotion; we must update our profiles to stand out from the crowd.
Conversely, this is also an age where the pressure to conform to the latest trend or cause is enormous. This tension is costly and tenuous; a tearing unsettling of the soul. It can also confuse a crucial question: What is my life led by? Am I led by my need to be known as a “successful” individual or by my need to fit into the crowd?
Jesus lived with unsettling clarity. He repeatedly revealed what his life was led by. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34). “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). Invite me into our life story, he says, because “…whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me” (Mark 9:37). And, of course, when he could have most succumbed to ego or the pressure to conform, “…yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus was led by God’s glory. His coming was all by the Father’s initiative, and he rested in that clarity. Jesus had a peace that disturbed, precisely because he knew who and what he was led by. He who was God’s glory revealed was constantly led by God’s glory.
This is God’s intention for all who know him. The Israelites were led by God’s glory in a pillar of fire and cloud during their exodus from Egypt (Exodus 13:21). The glory of God led Isaiah to his moment of surrender; “Here I am Lord, send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Jesus called his first disciples to a higher glory – from fishermen to fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). Even the disturbing realities of this broken world – like why a man was born blind – are reframed by the glory of God (John 9). The coming of the Holy Spirit brings God’s glory into every repentant heart, leading us into truth and righteousness (John 16:13). The Spirit leads the church into the mission of God for the glory of God. The Spirit empowers the Christian to offer their gifts so that the church may shine as the body of Christ – God’s glory revealed. In short, everything God is doing in the world is led by his glory – led by the glory centered in Jesus Christ.
Spiritual growth begins with a call to the glory of Jesus. Then, we surrender our lives for the glory of Jesus. We grow best in the context of community, the church, the body of Christ – we need to be with the glory of Jesus. And now, our growth matures as we are led by the glory of Jesus. It is not our ego or conforming to the crowd that moves us into playing our part in God’s reconciling work in the world; it is by the glory of Jesus that our fishing, plumbing, teaching, farming, pastoring, nursing, banking or whatever else defines us becomes more than ego or crowd-driven.
So, slow down and assess: What is my life led by? Is it ego or the crowd? Is my life led by the glory of Jesus? The growing spiritual life is led from nowhere else and for no other purpose. Think of it this way: it’s like you’re standing on third base – having been called to, for, and with the glory of Jesus – and Jesus is the clean-up hitter. He is the one who hits you home. It is by Him that our life is driven into meaningful – even if seemingly small – contribution in the reconciling mission of God. Spiritual growth has this goal.
Is my life led by the glory of Jesus? Where is he leading me by his glory to be his ambassador? By his glory, he is driving me on.