I suppose in our American Idol culture many read these verses, even many Christians, and are not be shocked by them. We are burned out, broken, and blackened bulbs that believe themselves to be quasars. We hear truths like, “you were made for greatness” and think “of course – my own;” but “you were made for greatness” does not mean “you are greatness.” The statement is not meant to curl you in upon yourself, but unfurl you to a transcendent glory.
Here is the shock, that He who is full of glory, grace, and truth, He who is the Light of the World (John 8:12), turns to His disciples, the spiritually bankrupt, and tells them that they are the light of the world. Jesus’ disciples, who are characterized by the beatitudes, do not respond to such a statement with a casual shrug, but a dropped jaw. They respond, “I was darkness, and Jesus tells me not ‘be the light’, but ‘you are the light’. This is the gospel. This is shocking!”
When others see this light they are to give glory to our Father in heaven, our Father who is above, transcendent, sitting on His heavenly throne enveloped in glory. We do the good works, but He gets the glory – what gives? God is not robbing glory. All of our doing is a result of His work in us by the Holy Spirit because of Jesus Christ. When our light shines others don’t see how wonderful we are, but how glorious our God is. This light is not our own. Jesus remains the Light of the World.
Some have said that we are moons; that the glory is not our own, we simply reflect. I like that analogy, but the language here goes farther than that. We are not just polished surfaces for light to bounce off of; no, the light pierces our dark hearts and transforms us from within. The light does not bounce off of the surface, but comes from the inside out. The Light invades and transforms; the Spirit of Christ picks up the shattered pieces of the mirror of the soul, repairs them, and then wipes off the black film.
Burned out, broken, and blackened bulbs do become quasars but the light is not our own.
The emanation or communication of the divine fullness, consisting in the knowledge of God, love to him, and joy in him, has relation indeed both to God and the creature: but it has relation to God as its fountain, as the thing communicated is something of its internal fullness. The water in the stream is something of the fountain; and the beams of the sun are something of the sun. And again, they have relation to God as their object: for the knowledge communicated is the knowledge of God; and the love communicated, is the love of God; and the happiness communicated, is joy in God. In the creature’s knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in, and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged, his fullness is received and returned. Here is both an emanation and remanation. The refulgence shines upon and into the creature, and is reflected back to the luminary. The beams of glory come from God, are something of God, and are refunded back again to their original. So that the whole is of God, and in God, and to God; and he is the beginning, and the middle, and the end. – Jonathan Edwards in The End for which God Created the World
Yes, you were made for greatness; it’s just not your own.