Peter wrote, “[God] has given us … his precious and very great promises, so that through them … [we] may become participants of the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4). With the coming of Christ, God has made a way for us to participate in the triune love that is the “divine nature.”
We see this fleshed out when Jesus prayed that his disciples
…may be one. As you Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us. … I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. … I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:21, 23, 26)
What a fantastic prayer! When we place our trust in Christ, we are made one with Christ and thereby participate in the loving union of the Father and Son. (Other passages make it clear that the Spirit is also included in this loving union). This is our participation “in the divine nature,” and it includes the fact that the Father loves us with the very same love with which he loves Jesus. In fact, because we are “in Christ,” the Father loves us in the same process of loving the Christ. As the author of Ephesians put it, we are loved by God “in the Beloved” (Eph1:6). We are, in short, loved with the same love that unites the three Persons of the Trinity! (see post).
Jesus’ prayer is that our participation in God’s love would result in his followers glorifying God by reflecting the love of the Triune God in the way we are united with one another. Jesus says to the Father, “[t]he glory which you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one” (Jn 17:22, emphasis added). Now, I’ve read and heard some people associate God’s glory with his control over everything. I will confess that I have never understood what is so glorious about someone exercising a power that they innately possess. By virtue of being an able-bodied human, for example, I have total control over how I move my little finger. But I seriously doubt anyone would call me “glorious” for this reason! So too, of course God could control every aspect of his creation if he wanted to. He’s God! He innately possesses that power. But what would be glorious if he decided to exercise that power?
Not only this, but if God’s glory was him exercising control over everything, he obviously could never share his glory with others. Yet, Jesus’ prayer makes it perfectly clear that God’s glory can be given away, for his glory is simply the radiance of his love. So, Jesus gives us the same glory he had been given when we empowers us to be united with one another in love, just as he and the Father are united in love. And what makes this glory truly glorious is that, far from being displayed in God’s control over things, this glory was most perfectly displayed when Christ gave up his innate power in order to lay his life down for us (see Jn 12:27-33).
So folks, know that you are, every moment, one with Christ and “loved in the Beloved.” And let this love empower you to glorify God by loving all others with this same, other-oriented, self-sacrificial love.
Image by Riley McCullough via Unsplash