“For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:5-6
“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” John 17:1,5,24
As He prepared His followers for His death, Jesus said that when he was lifted up from the Earth, He would draw all people to Himself. (Ref. Jn. 12:32) The people to whom He spoke would have heard the phrase “lifted up” and thought of crucifixion. We hear the words “lifted up” today and think of elevating or exalting something or someone. It is in the latter context that we need to hear Jesus’ words, for it is in these words that we are told how to carry out the mission of the church.
The mission of the church is essentially to make disciples. In order to make disciples we must introduce people to Jesus. In order to introduce people to Jesus we must somehow attract them. Now read the instructions; “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (Jn. 12:32) What is Jesus telling us to do? Is He telling us to create and implement programs? Is He telling us to find ways to market the church? Is He telling us to argue about worship styles or to get caught up in theological or doctrinal debates? He is telling us, quite simply, to lift Him up. We might lift Him up through our programs, through our worship, our marketing strategies and with solid theology and doctrine, but all of those things, everything that we do, must be about Jesus, not about us!
In John 12: 28, Jesus prays, “Father, glorify your name!” When we hear the word glory we most often think of images of splendor, praise, majesty, and worship, all of which describe the honor do our Lord. But glory also means to make visible the presence of God. Jesus crucifixion & resurrection reveals God’s power & presence, offering salvation & life to all people. Lifting up Jesus is not about getting God’s attention. It is about bearing witness to God and as we do that, all people will be drawn to Him! Jesus surrendered his very life to God’s greater purposes so God would be glorified and He calls us and His church to do the same. Our lives and our work in ministry should not be to simply praise God. The deeper meaning of glory calls us to reveal God in everything we do!
As we labor and minister in the church;
- what is our motivation?
- Are we preaching ourselves?
- Or are we lifting up Jesus?
- Are we lifting up Jesus so He will be glorified and made visible in our broken and hurting world?
We have the best, most positive message that there is. Our message is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s be about the business of lifting Him up!
May God richly bless you as you seek to draw closer to Him during this holy season of Lent!
This Week’s Challenge: Lift Jesus Up!