Coming in April – Lord, Teach Us To Pray, daily reflections on The Lord’s Prayer

The Sixth Day of Advent- December 2

PREPARATION: lighting the candle and readying myself to listen.


It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father.
Hebrews 2:10-11a

“CHRISTIANS AREN’T PERFECT, JUST FORGIVEN” the bumper sticker proclaimed on the car in front of me. I had mixed feelings about what I read. I was glad to see a Christian declaring faith in the full and free forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ. But it was the “just forgiven” that bothered me. I remembered the words of philosopher and theologian Dallas Willard: “Just forgiven? And is that really all there is to becoming a Christian? The gift of eternal life comes to that?” (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God)

Don’t get me wrong! It is precious to be assured of God’s forgiveness. My joyous assurance of this had not come easy as I had projected onto God the legalisms purported to be Gospel. But I will always remember that wonderful night I sang and took to heart the words of the hymn:

“Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul).”

How wonderful it has been these many years to know that I am forgiven. But stopping with “just forgiven” would be like a child stopping with the gift wrapping rather than going on to the gift itself! There is so much more to the Christian life than God wiping the slate clean. This is revealed in today’s scripture in which God becomes human and suffers in “bringing many children to glory.” God’s eternal purpose has been more than just to forgive us; He purposes to share with us His very life and glory. Eastern Orthodox theologian Kallistos Ware has written: “Christ shares to the full in what we are, and so makes it possible to share in what he is, in his divine life and glory. He became what we are, so as to make us what he is…Christ’s riches are his eternal glory.” (Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way)

It is the glory of the Eternal One to which the apostle John bears witness: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). John saw that glory in the Word made flesh; he then heard Jesus pray to the Father: “The glory that you have given me I have given to them” (John 17:22).

Here is more than “Just forgiven”! The Father determines to impart His glory to us through Jesus Immanuel. Oxford theologian Michael Reeves expresses this bestowal of God’s glory to His adopted children: “For the Father gives all his glory, his love, his blessing, his very self exclusively to his Son – and he then sends his Son to share with us his fullness, ‘I have given them the glory that you gave me.’” (Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith)

God created you and me not merely to be forgiven people who get to heaven. God created us to forever share His life and glory. Theologian C. Baxter Kruger writes of this eternal purpose: “The Christian God is interested in relationship with us, and not just relationship, but union, and not just union, but such a union that everything He is and has – all glory and fullness, all joy and beauty and unbridled life – is to be shared with us and to become as much ours as it is His.” (C. Baxter Kruger, Jesus and the Undoing of Adam)

Jesus tells a wondrous parable about a lost son and of how his waiting father does not even allow his son to finish his ‘sinner’s prayer’ before the father calls for the best robe and his own signet ring to be put on his prodigal. And what do they do? They celebrate! The son is more than ‘just forgiven’! He now shares life with his father. Through Jesus Immanuel we can share life with our Father now and through eternity!

CONVERSATION: I talk with God about the thoughts and feelings stirring within.

REST: I take time to be present to Immanuel who is present to me.

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