The Ideal Life

2 Thess. 1:11,12.---' Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.'

This prayer of the Apostle Paul expresses the ideal life for all who name the name of Christ. This purpose, which he requests in fervent petition to God might be fulfilled in the lives of those he had come so to love, expresses the highest, the best, the only worthy type of life for all who profess and call themselves Christians. Unless one who is called by the name of Christ is living for Christ's glory, unless he is adding to the sum total of that glory in the world, unless he is reflecting it as he beholds that glory day by day, and is thus himself adding in some degree to the light of the world, he is failing in that unto which Christ redeemed him. We have heard more than once in these days that the chief end of man, in the purpose and mind of God, is that he should glorify Him; and when the Apostle here prays for the Thessalonians in these terms he is praying that every one of them may, in Christ Jesus, rise to the height of God's redemptive purpose for his life.

Whatever kind of life we live we are each giving our own impression of God to the world, consciously and unconsciously, wittingly and unwittingly. The world is taking its measure of Christ not from the Book, not from the things which the Christian Church declares from its pulpits, but from the things it sees in the lives of those who profess this Faith. We are the world's Bible. Upon us rests the responsibility of giving such interpretation of Christ to the world that men shall be compelled to consider Him, to believe in Him, to draw near to Him, to revere Him, and ultimately, through the ministry of our lives, to trust and serve Him.

A character, can't be confuted. People may not be interested enough in Christianity to listen to its case, or they may scoff it out of court, or may be stumbled by real difficulties in their path. But when they see a really Christian man, and watch the thing being lived out, there is no answering that ! "He made me a Christian," said Stanley about Livingstone, "and he never knew that he was doing it !"

At first sight such a declaration as this in regard to the possibility of life seems almost beyond credibility---to imagine that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the name of the Savior, the name which is higher than all other names, that name in which every knee shall bow, should receive glory in such a poor, weak, and insignificant thing as this life of ours ! It almost seems like painting the lily or gilding refined gold. And yet, while we cannot add to the glory and brightness of the noonday sun, we may, by opening every closed room in the house, by taking the shutters from every darkened apartment, give the sun more space in which to exercise his dominion. And likewise with Jesus Christ. We cannot add to His glory, even as we cannot take from His power. But we may open our hearts to Him, and we may seek so to live as to open other hearts and lives and minds to Him, that He shall be glorified in them; and so His dominion be increased.

There are three things which constitute the glory of Jesus Christ in any life, however humble or high. Three tests are suggested by God's own Word. We turn back to the earthly life of our Lord for them. From the Cradle to the Cross His life was lived under the dark clouds of men's rejection. There was little glory from its commencement to its close. It seemed to be lived under a sun that was eclipsed. And yet three times during its course it was as though the clouds parted and a ray of golden glory fell upon Him. And from His lips there came the declaration, 'Now is the Son of man glorified !' On each of these three occasions the cause of His glory is so specific and clear that we may learn from them how to test our own lives and how to assure our hearts before God.

[1] First of all, there came one day to Him a company of Greeks. They were men trained to look for the philosophical, the intellectual, the highly mental in everything. They came to the disciples of Christ, and said: 'Sir, we would see Jesus.' The disciples went to the Lord and told Him the desire of these strangers. Immediately Jesus said: 'The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified.'

From this we gather that Christ is glorified when faith comes to men by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. For these men had obviously heard about His words and His work. They had heard of the wonderful and yet so simple things He said which arrested men's minds and fired them with desire, and at the same time disclosed to them their weakness, and transformed them. And they had heard of His work. They had heard of His healing power, they had heard of His sovereign might; and they came to Him with honest and sincere hearts. 'We would see Jesus ! We would put to the test of personal experience these things that have been reported of Him !'

Paul once gave his own credentials by saying: 'Am I not an apostle. Am I not free ? Have I not seen Jesus Christ the Lord ?' That was the beginning of life to Paul and it is the beginning of life to all who follow him as he followed Christ. The life which glorifies the name of the Lord Christ, the only life which is worthy of account, begins when a person honestly seeks to see Christ for himself.

[2] It is now a very different scene. It was on the eve of our Lord's death, when He gathered His friends together for that farewell meal in which He broke bread and poured out wine in token of His broken Body and shed Blood. There was one in that little company whose exterior demeanor and friendship masked a heart of treachery and disloyalty. When Jesus had given the sop to Judas he went out into the night; and the click of the latch had hardly been heard when Jesus turned to the eleven and said: 'Now is the Son of man glorified !' The traitor had gone out; and the hearts of the eleven, weak and failing men though they were, who just struggled to keep up with their Master in loyalty, were set as one towards Him. 'Now is the Son of man glorified !' And there is a close and clear analogy in every human life. Christ is glorified in us when all that is akin to the Judas spirit is cast out, when the spirit of the world is expelled, when the spirit of self-interest and self-pleasing is excluded, when the heart is loyal and true to Him.

What drove Judas out from that Upper Room was a presence and the word of Jesus Christ. The light expelled the darkness. The Christ sent out the spirit of evil by His silent power. So it is in our life. He can break the power, cancel the sin, and set us free. He can give us immediate and present deliverance from everything which betrays Him before the world. He can so take hold of our spirit and change us by His power that never again shall we dishonor Him in our private or public life.

The Son of Man is glorified in us when we become unworldly, when everything in our lives, within and without, is under His undisputed control. Not when we call Him 'Lord, Lord,' but when we begin, by the instinct of His imparted life, to do the things that He says.

[3] One other instance. Jesus and His disciples had left that room with all its sacred memories, and somewhere---it may have been in the Garden---our Lord offered that high-priestly prayer, in which He spoke to His Father about His followers: 'Father, I have given them Thy word, and they have kept it. Father, they are not of the world, as I am not of the world, but I have sent them into the world as Thou didst send me. Father, I am glorified in them !'

In the darkest hour of all, when the shadows of evil were gathering thick upon Him, Christ was able to look upon that little band of loyal followers with all their faults, with all their imperfections, with all their incomplete consecrations, and say of them: 'Father, I am glorified in them !' And the deduction is this: that when one seeks Christ, when he willingly opens his heart to Christ that the Judas spirit may be cast out, and accepts the word of Christ which calls him to sonship, which takes him out of the world and yet sends him back into the world as a messenger and a witness, then Christ says: 'The Son of man is glorified !' In other words, it means for us that when we take this, His standard of life, and make it the law of our lives, even though we fail, even though we never realize to the full our own ideals, even though our obedience is mixed with much self-disappointment, we glorify Christ. We glorify Christ when we set ourselves in the way of doing His commandments.

Paul in the text goes on to say, not only shall His name be glorified in us, but 'ye in him.' There is reciprocal glory; for as we seek to glorify Christ He glorifies us. We never have realized ourselves until we set ourselves to the task of glorifying the Son of God.

Paul's last word is a favorite with him---'the grace of our God.' Paul has in mind a kind of weak panic in the Thessalonian Church caused by the utterly impossible nature of their high task. He prays for them that they may glorify the Name of Christ; but well as it is for them to have the ideal they cannot reach it. And Paul knows this, in himself and in them; so he adds: According to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.' Not according to their own resolving, not according to their own mental ability, not according to their own spiritual resoluteness, but 'according to the grace of God.' Let us take heart ! According to his mercy He saved us; and according to His grace He will enable us to glorify His name until we see Him face to face.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha