A meandering waffle…
Recently I’ve written about the glory of the triune God. This glory is His other-centred love. When He acts for this glory it’s not because He or His glory are self-centred. No He is other-centred and His glory is His grace. But just because this is so, when God acts for the sake of His glorious grace He is simply determining to be Giver.
From eternity the nature of the triune God has been deferral and other-centred praise. When faced by creatures, even creatures who would ignore and spurn such love, this God determines to love with an almighty ‘nevertheless’.
It’s like the mother who is faced by a naughty and manipulative child. She could cave in to the tantrum or she could withdraw and ignore the child altogether. But she condescends in love, not because the child is good (he’s not) and not because she’s weak (she’s not). She acts in accordance with her gracious motherliness, to love the child in spite of himself and in this way to lift him from his misbehaviour.
Put it another way, it’s like the man who is struck on the right cheek by an aggressor. By nature his instincts are fight or flight – strike back or withdraw. But instead he stands his ground and offers his left cheek also. He opens himself out in grace and continues the offer of relationship. This is God-like glory.
Put it another way, it’s like Christ crucified. He might have remained in heaven or merely sent us to hell. Instead He acted for the sake of His glory. He absorbed our blow and rather than retaliate He offered reconciling love.
The cross was the triune love laid bare. And this is not simply because the Persons demonstrated how much they love and act for one another. More than this, they demonstrated how the glory of grace encounters what is outside this love. In costly sacrifice the triune glory suffers what is outside in order to draw it in.
How do we respond to this glorious God? Well we rejoice in the grace of Jesus shown to us – the terrible children and violent aggressors. And we pass on the divine glory we have received. Out of the fulness we have received we empty ourselves (which is precisely the dynamic we have seen from the triune God in the cross of Christ). Out of the strengthening of Christ’s Spirit we will adopt cross-shaped love towards others and in every circumstance imaginable practise costly cheek-turning. (More on cheek turning here, here and here).
In this sense “What would Jesus do?” is exactly the question to ask in every ethical situation. Just make sure your answer is always: To receive the grace of the Father and lay down our lives for the unworthy. Once you’re looking for opportunities, it’s surprising how often you’ll be able to apply the wisdom of the cross in daily, practical cheek-turning. And this is what it means to ‘glorify God.’ The glory of the cross lived out is the glory of the triune God applied. Because the triune glory is the cruciform glory.
It’s a wonderful thing to participate in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). But the very essence of it is taking up your cross and following Christ (Mark 8:34)