You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. (Luke 21:16-17)
I’ve used the phrase “bringing glory to God,” and the concept of “glorifying God.” But what does that mean? Is it biblical or is it just some Christianese mumbo jumbo that the church invented that Christians just say out of tradition and impulse?
Jesus calls Christians to a life of suffering. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Jesus is not talking about a pretty cross necklace, he’s talking about the cross which was used for thousands of years as a symbol and tool for torture and death.
But it’s not in vain– in the Gospel of Luke (above) He explains that the suffering and hatred from others is for his name’s sake. That’s right, for the sake of his name, his reputation, his image. Not for our name or our reputation or our image. Not for money or fame, not for praise of other people, not for social status or rank.
“You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.”
Is this consistent with the God of the Scriptures or is Jesus throwing a new concept at us?
It’s not new and it’s not a coincidence that he uses the same phrase to mean the same thing.
Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. (Psalm 79:9)
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known. (Psalm 106:8)
For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off. (Isaiah 48:9)
Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. (Romans 1:5)
This seems to be a historic– man has understood that the most convincing argument that one can make to God for something being done is for the sake of God’s name and reputation.
Now this wakes up all sorts of feelings, as it should. A lot of it arises from jealousy and pride. We’re conditioned to think in the exact opposite; that it’s just purely selfish to do everything for the sake of yourself and your own reputation. While this is true for every human, it’s different with God. Here’s the main difference in why: God is perfect, and we are not.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” Man falls short and therefore doesn’t deserve constant glory, but God on the other hand. He’s pure, perfect, without blemish. To not admire Him and respect him is infinitely more offensive than spitting on a “masterpiece” of art like the Mona Lisa.
Getting over this hump that God cares about his own name’s sake more than anything else can be challenging. But not if we understand that upholding God’s stellar reputation greatly benefits us. Think of it this way:
God is our father. His reputation as a father depends on how he treats us as children. So this process of thought should bring you to questions that can be found quite comforting: Would a good father, a reputable father, leave his children high and dry when they are in distress? (No) Would he not work hard to supply them with anything and everything they need (not to be confused with what they want)? (Yes) Would a good father not bless his children with gifts? (Yes, not just materially either) Would he not support and encourage them when they need it? (Yes, he would)
Would a good father sacrifice the life of one of his sons, his best and most loved son, for the lives of the rest of his family?
Yes, he would and he did.
So, this is what it means to bring God glory. It is to make God look good and to make God seen as good. Not as though he weren’t good enough, but that his goodness is rarely in the forefront of this world. It is making it understood by all, believer and non, that God’s healing of us is more than just wanting us to get better– for this is simply a selfish view of things. It is to magnify God as the greatest and most loving Father who did, and will exist.
“So whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”