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Glorifying the Other – the heart-beat of God’s own life

From Halden:

“I do not seek my own glory” (John 8:5). With these words Jesus set a precedent for all those who claim to follow him. Fundamental to the call to discipleship is the renunciation of seeking to glorify, to magnify, to enhance and promote oneself.

It is often thought that this calling is based on the distinction between God and humanity. God should be glorified, not us. Therefore we refuse to glorify ourselves and instead glorify God. Indeed, aspects of the Reformed tradition insist that God’s whole aim in being involved with the world is to glorify God’s own self. Thus, we glorify God rather than ourselves because God wants to glorify God’s self rather than humanity.

However, this is all entirely wrong. Jesus, according to the Christian confession is God’s very self come among us. Thus, when Jesus reveals that he does not seek his own glory, he is stating something that is not only to be true about us, but preeminently about God’s own life. God’s life consists in the refusal to seek self-glorification. Rather, the life of the Godhead itself consists in the loving mutuality of the trinitarian persons who only seek the glory of one another. Thus, Jesus seeks the glory of the Father rather than his own, and so also the Father seeks to glorify Jesus (John 7:18). Finally, God also fundamentally desires to glorify humanity: “those he justified he also glorified” (Rom 8:30).

So, we do not reject the quest of self-glorfication to somehow “make room” for God’s desire to self-glorify. Rather we reject self-glorification because that’s precisely what God is like. To reject the quest for self-exaltation is, counterintuitively, the very epitome of what it means to be God-like. We don’t reject self-glorification because self-glorification is reserved for God alone. We reject it because self-glorification in any form is demonic.

0 thoughts on “Glorifying the Other – the heart-beat of God’s own life

  1. pgjackson

    John 17:1, 5?

    Is it more accurate to say that the Son doesn't seek his own glory except for when he seeks it in and for the glory of the Father?

    This would allow us to say that the Father also, therefore, seeks his own glory, but he only seeks his own glory in and for the glory of the Son.

    Which in turn would prevent us from having to do some really odd gymnastics with Exodus 14:4, 17 etc. (and other texts where Yahweh is seeking his own glory).

    Strangely enough, this also then makes sense of the way in which the scriptures exhort us to seek for our own glory, only by seeking it in and for the glory of the triune God. Mark 8: 35.

  2. Glen

    Hi Code,

    I think a full treatment of glory in John would bear out the argument here.

    See e.g.

    John 8:50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.

    John 8:54 Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.

    And, Pete, I think John 17 again bears this out - Christ determines that His glorification will only come from outside Himself - hence the prayer. And He even finishes the prayer (v24) by saying that even His eternal and eschatological glory is only His because it's been given to Him.

    As for Ex 14 (which I preached on last night!)

    1) it's literally 'I will be glorified in/by/through Pharaoh and all his army and (/when?) the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh'. There is a glory that the LORD receives when He is acknowledged to be the LORD - even by enemies.

    2) The LORD has so totally bound up His own vindication here with the vindication of Israel that the glory He receives actually comes because of deep other-centredness.

    As for other OT occurences, I think (in line with Jonathan Edwards) that very often when God does things for His Name or Glory that a *Person* is intended (i.e. Christ). cf John 12:28

    In Mark the other-centredness of the glory is absolutely front-and-centre.

    That's what I'm concerned to uphold. That glorification of the Other is the *end*. It is not the means by which we basically seek to glorify ourselves. I believe that this is basic to God's triune life and I think it should go without saying that it should mark ours.

  3. pgjackson

    I think I see what you're saying. But much of it is simply a description of what God's glory means, or of that 'shape' if you like, of his glory. Especially your 2) re. Ex 14.

    Which doesn't and can't negate the clear statements of scripture that God seeks his own glory. It just means this must always be understood as being composed of the mutual glorifying of the three persons as they bring humanity and creation to redemption and glory.

    Whereas your quote seems to want to pit these things against one another - the Son chooses to glorify the Father as an alternative to glorifying himself etc., i.e. as if he is altogether disinterested in his own glory. Knowing himself to be the Son of the Father this can't be the case - he knows he is the one who will glorify the Father by being glorified by the Father, hence why he asks for it. He seeks his own glory in and for the glory of the Father.

    Which I guess is what is going on in Exodus 14, presuming that it's the Son speaking (if it's the Father, the point still stands). Either way, the language of seeking glory for himself is still there and therefore not illegitimate.

    That might mean we want to talk, as you do, about the glory of the other being the end (the 'for' in the way I've put it above), but that's not pitted against an interest in being glorified, rather it entails it.

  4. Bobby Grow


    I think what Halden and you are saying is substantial. God's glory is none other than what is evinced at the cross. This is what the intratrinitarian love of God has always looked like.

    The only thing missing from Halden's points is any points on the extra calvinisticum and Christ's vicariousness; I think both of these concepts would help fill this point out, make it less, thin. ;-)

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