Wednesday, April 3, 2013
From Glory to Glory
2Cor. 3:12 ¶ Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness,
2Cor. 3:13 not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside.
2Cor. 3:14 But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside.
2Cor. 3:15 Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds;
2Cor. 3:16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
2Cor. 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2Cor. 3:18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
This concept of glory exists throughout the entire Scripture and every time we read about glory we understand that it represents the presence of God. Moses went up on the mountain and sat in the very presence of God as he received the commandments. When he returned to the camp his face shone because the glory of God was present.
The hope that we have today is for the presence of God. He can and is present in our lives on a daily basis. And Paul is encouraging the Corinthians (and us) not to be afraid of this presence. The Israelites were afraid of what they saw reflected in the face of Moses. The awesomeness of the presence of God frightened them to the point that they asked him to put a veil over his face. They did not want to walk daily in a relationship with a holy God. Instead, they wanted to keep him at a "safe" distance. Sadly they struggled with understanding God and even when they heard the laws of God read to them, they allowed a type of "veil" to keep them from fully understanding.
But now a new day had dawned for the children of Israel, and for all of us. The veil can be removed for those who want to have a deeply intimate and personal relationship with God -- just as Moses did! Moses would have to go daily to the tent of meeting, but through the power of the Holy Spirit we have the incredible privilege of meeting with the Lord on a daily basis. The Holy Spirit becomes a mediator that allows us to seek the face of God, allowing us to see his glory. Paul tells us that it is a glory that is reflected in a mirror and the early Church Fathers often referred to us as the mirrors. We are the mirrors that can now reflect the glory of God to the world. And as mirrors, the closer that we grow to the original, the closer we are to the image -- Jesus Christ -- the greater the reflection of Christ is in our mirror. The result -- if someone looks on us they see us as transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. And this relationship of drawing closer to him continues throughout our entire lives so that the transformation occurs from one degree of glory to another, or from glory to glory. The work of the Holy Spirit draws us into this ever transforming relationship in which we move on from glory to glory in the power and presence of God. This is God's plan for his holy people.
Therefore the call for each and every single one of us is an upward call. The Christian life is never a static life. We have never "arrived" There is great arrogance in the idea that we have "arrived" when we recognize that we are being called into ever increasing participation in an infinite God. If God is infinite -- how can we ever "arrive" for God stretches out into infinity. Therefore participating and learning and growing with God will go on forever, and that is exciting to the believer.
But what does this look like in our daily lives? If we were going rock climbing (and I have never been so I'm not sure what I'm talking about) we would want to make sure that we were in good shape and had all the right equipment with us, as well as a good guide. We wouldn't stand at the bottom of the mountain and then simply hope and pray that we would end up at the top.
If we are going to be transformed from glory to glory then there is the upward call that encourages us to continue the spiritual climb throughout our entire lives. The Holy Spirit is our guide, but we must also put in some effort. This is why we often read about the need to practice spiritual discipline. What does that look like in your life? For me it includes the discipline to be in the Scriptures every day that I can and it includes time in prayer. It also includes intentionality in situations where I have to step back and ask God for direction and guidance. It's sitting down on a plane and asking God whether he wants me to have an intentional conversation with the person next to me. It's the intentionality of being Jesus to the waiter or waitress I encounter today. It's praying for God to help me have "evangelism eyes" and see the people I meet today the way that he would see them. It's praying that I can be Jesus to my family today. It's praying that God helps me to know what I should say "yes" to and what I should say "no" to, and for me, it's praying and studying for God's wisdom and leadership as I prepare sermons to present at various upcoming events and services. And that's probably just the tip of the iceberg.
I don't know about you but I want to join Moses on that journey into the very presence of God. I want to be transformed from glory to glory until the world no longer sees me but sees Jesus in me. There are days when I stumble and fall on this journey but through the grace of God may I be able to get back up, brush off the dirt, and continue the climb.
Where are you today? Are you being transformed from one degree of glory to another?
Lord, you know my heart. Please help me to follow you this day. Amen.