If you ever wondered why we at Desiring God write so much about doctrinal particularities, here’s one answer.
If glory includes beauty, as I wrote last week, it includes lines. They may be curved or straight. But without lines there is no form. You would never see a cloud, if there were no border to it. The whole sky would be one color. You would never see the sun or the moon or a baseball, if there were no circumference. Never see an oak leaf, if there were no fingered outline. Never see a human face, if the cheeks and nose and brow and chin had no edge.
Therefore, the glory of Christ has lines. Without them, “glory” is just a word. These lines define forms of beauty. Aspects of glory. Particularities that can be seen and enjoyed. This is who Jesus is. He is not a vague glory. He is a glorious coherence of particular glories that have lines.
More Than Vague Talk
I was praying this morning for the church I served for thirty-three years. I said, “O God, grant that Pastor Jason and the staff and elders and people would live for the glory of Christ.” As I prayed this, I thought, “What do I mean?” And the truth pressed in on me: Vague talk about the glory of Christ often covers a mountain of vagueness and misrepresentation.
“The glory of Christ has lines. Without ‘glory’ is just a word.”
For example, one of our first visitors here in Tennessee, where we’re staying in a relative’s house for several months, was a seventy-five-year-old Jehovah’s Witness with a five-year-old boy. I spoke with him for perhaps twenty minutes on the front porch. After I heard his analysis of the Syrian and Egyptian conflicts, I said, “One of the main problems I have with Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs is that you diminish the glory of Jesus Christ.”
He said, “Oh, no. We don’t do that. We look forward to the day when we will all live happily in the kingdom ruled by Jesus Christ. This will be very glorious, and he will be the most glorious one of all.”
I said, “But he will not be God.”
He said, “I know that’s the way you read the Bible, but we don’t think that’s what it teaches.”
I said, “But it does diminish the glory of Jesus Christ to deny that he is God and that all the fullness of deity dwells in him bodily. That is a diminishment of his glory.”
“No,” he said, “he will be very glorious.”
He let me pray for us that Christ would stand forth and reveal his true glory.
Where the Lines Are Drawn
So as I prayed this morning for my pastor and my church, I did not pray vaguely. When I said, “Grant them to live for the glory of Christ,” I saw lines. The glory of Jesus has lines, borders, edges, circumferences. He is one thing and not another. His “glory” is not a catchall for things we think are wonderful. The lines I saw were not the lines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Which leads us to the Bible. This is the place where the lines are drawn for us to see. Here in the Bible, Jesus has one kind of glory and not another. This is why we care so much, and write so much, about doctrinal particularities.
Bringing Jesus into Focus
Jesus is real. He is not a smudge of wonder. As you turn the lens of Scripture correctly, he comes into amazing focus, yes, even with our present limitations (1 Corinthians 13:12). We do not worship a formless glory.
“In the Bible, Jesus has one kind of glory and not another.”
So look for the lines, the form, the particularities of his person, his specific beauties.
I am praying that my pastor and the church I love would live for:
*The glory of the Jesus who was in the beginning with God and was God (John 1:1) *The glory of the Jesus who shed his blood to seal the new covenant for his people (Luke 22:20) *The glory of the Jesus who said, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15) *The glory of the Jesus who said, “No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27) *The glory of the Jesus who said, “You do not believe because you are not among my sheep” (John 10:26) *The glory of the Jesus who said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me” (John 6:37) *The glory of the Jesus who said, “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:65) *The glory of the Jesus who wept over Jerusalem, saying, “Would that you had known the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41–42)
So when you pray, and when you worship, remember that there is no beauty without lines. And there are ways to draw the lines of glory that are not the glory of Christ. Know your Bible well. Trace its lines. And worship this Christ.