If you are reading this, I’m assuming you know who the apostle Paul is. He wrote a lot of the New Testament, and he is the most important figure in Christianity other than Christ himself.
Few of you will know about uncle John. He was actually my dad’s godfather, who died about ten years ago. From all that we can tell, he accepted Christ as savior within weeks of his death. Monetarily, he was stinking rich. He left my grandfather a house and my dad a 1966 Ford Galaxie and generous amount of cash. And that was pretty much the dregs of the worth of his estate. He was rich because, honestly, he was a miser. He often stole bathrobes and towels from hotels. Once, when my grandparents and uncle John were out to dinner, my grandmother commented on the one of the small pieces of dinnerware on the table. Apparently uncle John swiped it without anyone noticing; and after they had left the restaurant, uncle John presented it to my grandmother as a gift.
So, I was thinking recently about the nature of greatness on earth. On “that day”, when we see Christ in glory, how we will view each other — especially the men who we (rightly) see as heroes? What would happen if my uncle John and the apostle Paul were to meet in heaven? One might be the greatest Christian in history. The other barely got in, after having lived a life of selfishness. When he died, he might not even have known who Paul was.
Let’s say that Paul and uncle John end up meeting in heaven. And let’s say we see this meeting from an earthly perspective, where a comparison pales on the scale of kingdom accomplishments. Unlike the disciples’ debate, here we would not question who is the greater of these two men. Of course, we’re glad that uncle John got saved, but who would compare him to that great Apostle? That, like I’ve said, might be our earthly view of things.
But let’s look at it as though we were in glory, in the presence of Christ. Our focus will not be on the question of “Who is greater?” That is a category mistake we will not make. We will only rejoice in Christ — in his work in and through both Paul and uncle John. Using a man who blasphemed Christ’s body to build that same body was a miracle wrought by the risen Christ. And saving a selfish old man during his march toward damnation was no less a miracle.
We will say, “Praise and honor be to the Lamb, who has done all things well!” All things — including his work in and through both Paul and uncle John. The Lord Jesus will get his glory, and we will see only in that light. On that day when all is accomplished and the already and the not-yet converge into the final consummation of the Lord’s purposes, we will glory only in the Lord.
We will see that all things are for him and through him and to him, and petty desires for our little kingdoms will be purged completely. Let us then remember for whom we labor, knowing that it is his glory and will be his glory. On that day, we will rejoice in him and not in ourselves or anyone else.