By Femi Aribisala
The problem with “today” is that it only lasts “ten days.”
The scriptures say the whole earth is filled with the glory of God. So how come most people cannot see it? How come men could not see the glory of God in Jesus Christ?
They could not because Jesus is the quintessential spiritual man. The same applies to the New Creation. The New Creation is a spiritual man. However, the glory of the spiritual is veiled from the natural.
Paul admits that for a long time he only saw Jesus from a human point of view. Therefore, he did not believe that this most ordinary man from Nazareth was the Messiah. After Christ revealed himself to Paul on Damascus Road by the special grace of God, he resolved that he would never again see men after the flesh but would only see them spiritually.
Christ in you
Once a man gives his life to Christ, God comes to dwell in him. He then carries out a life-long transformative work in him. What does this entail? He works in Christ into the believer, systematically transforming him more and more into Christ’s likeness. (2 Corinthians 3:18). Thus, Paul says to the believer: “Christ is in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:26-27). Christ is in you, not as a result of any self-application, but because God is installing Christ in you.
Let me illustrate this kingdom dynamic with a parable. A man called Mike Teeson gave his life to Christ. But after he confessed Christ, he continued to be quarrelsome and to beat people up. He still thinks he is Mike Teeson, but the counsel of God says he is a new creation. If he fulfils the word of God, he is in for a big surprise. One day, he is going to wake up and realise he cannot fight anymore.
Because God is at work in Mike, the word of God says, “the older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:33). This means Mike will soon discover that the old man of the flesh will become subject to the new man of the Spirit. First he might find it increasingly difficult to beat people up as usual. Soon, everybody Mike fights will beat him. Soon, a little boy will slap Mike and he will discover that he simply does not have the strength to fight back anymore.
What exactly happened to Mike? Mike lost the biggest fight of his life, the fight against Jesus Christ. What Jesus did was to make Mike into a useless fighter. Paul speaks of this future eventuality as if it had already been accomplished in the past: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Mike might have anticipated that as a believer, he is going to become a good Mike Teeson. That is wrong. Mike is going to become somebody other than himself. He is going to be a totally new creation. Indeed, Mike is slated to become exactly like Christ: “Now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2).
Why did people who lived in biblical times fail to see the glory of Jesus? The problem here comes from being used to a completely different type of glory. It comes from being so thoroughly socialised in the glory of the world that we fail to recognise and appreciate the peculiar glory of the kingdom of God.
The glory of the man of the world is temporal; it does not last. The man who won the gold medals in the Olympic Games is soon forgotten. The president’s term of office comes to an end. The former Miss World is now an old woman. But the glory of God endures. It does not fade. It lasts forever.
The devil offered Jesus all the glory of the world for a very meagre requirement: “simply bow down and worship me.” But Jesus would have none of it. Why would he trade the genuine article for the counterfeit? This only happens when we don’t know the original or don’t know its value.
What would you give for the glory of the world? How far would you go in order to be the Managing Director of your company? It is said in the world: “All is fair in love and in war.” Can a man make you an offer you cannot refuse? Can you be seduced by the world? Of course you can, for you are a man of little strength. That is why Jesus taught us to pray: “do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil.” (Matthew. 6:13).
Observe that according to the Lord’s Prayer, the true kingdom, the real power, and the glory that does not fade all belong exclusively to God. Therefore we need to ask the Lord not to allow us to be deceived by the counterfeit. We must be careful not to be seduced by the glory of this world?
A pre-eminent glory of man in the world consists in the abundance of his possessions. But in Christ, such glory is meaningless. Show me your wealth in the world and I will show you my faith in Christ. In the world, people live by money. When a man has money, he has “made it.” But in the kingdom of God, the just shall live by faith. (Hebrews 10:38). If the Lord is really our shepherd then we shall not want. We shall no longer hunger for the “goodies” of this world. When a man truly has Christ, he has all he needs.
Confronted with the choice of relinquishing all he had and inheriting the kingdom of God, the rich young ruler opted for his wealth. The bible observes that he went away sorrowful because he had many possessions. What the wisdom of God is saying here is that the wealth of many is going to be the cause of their eternal sorrow. The rich man of the world might have something today. But the problem with “today” is that it only lasts “ten days.” (Revelation 2:10)
However, the New Creation not only has today, he also has the future. By his faith, he overcomes the vanities of the world. Jesus came and bequeathed him with the abundant life. He gave him a life that may be devoid of the things of the world, but that is full of the things the world does not have: love, righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
The natural man cannot see the things of kingdom of God. For example, Isaiah could not see the glory of God until King Uzziah died. The inferior glory of the king blinded him from the superior glory of God. (Isaiah 6:1). Therefore, he declares: “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.” (Isaiah 40:4-5).