Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Developing Your Spiritual Life by Gazing at Glory:

a Meditation on 2 Corinthians 3:18 (Part 1 of 3)


"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,

are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV


     Although electronic digital cameras with their instant results have exploded with popularity, perhaps you still remember or use a camera which requires actual film.  These cameras cause an image to be captured as a negative on the film.  The film is taken to a photo development lab, where equipment in a darkroom transfers the image from a negative to a positive print.  Whereas a digital camera allows you to see an image of the finished picture instantly, you actually have to wait (usually at least an hour) before seeing how film turned out.

     Sometimes pictures do not turn out as we expect.  Whenever taking a picture with such the film cameras, one would need to ask a few questions if the picture did not turn out as expected.  The questions might include:  Did I take the lenscap off?  Did I give the camera sufficient exposure to the scene I tried to capture?  What does the development actually show?

     There is an analogy here for our spiritual lives.  We are not like digital cameras that produce the image for instant viewing.  Rather, we are in a process of development much more akin to the film that had to be developed.  God made man in His image, to reflect His glory (Genesis 1:26-27), but this image was shattered by man's rebellion against His Creator.  Christ, the perfect image of God (Hebrews 1:3), came to restore this image in those who believe in Him.  God's plan for His chosen ones is that they be "conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29).  In order to develop properly, 2 Corinthians 3:18 reminds us of three things we must keep in mind.


1. The lenscap must be removed. 


     Proper spiritual development requires an unveiled face.  Paul speaks of an "open" or "unveiled" face.  In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul makes use of contrast to bring home his point.

     The first contrast is that of the Old to the New Covenant.  In the Old Covenant, only a privileged few, such as Moses, beheld God's glory.  However, because of the coming of Jesus Christ, the New Covenant offers such beholding to all believers.

     The second contrast is that of the veil that exists for those who do not trust Christ with the unveiled faces of believers.  The Bible says that the veil that Moses had to place over his face to shield the Israelites from the reflected glory of God continues as a veil over the "reading of the old testament" to this day, unless they turn to the Lord, who takes the veil away in Christ.  The Spirit of God accomplishes this through His omnipotent power – the same power that created the world.  "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6). 

     So, the first thing to remember in seeking spiritual development is that the lenscap must be taken off.  God does this for those who turn to the Lord.  He is the one who removes their blindness, gives them life, and shines His glorious light in their hearts.  There is absolutely no growth in Christlikeness unless one is converted to trust in the Lord.

     What do you think a blind man in a dark room would do if he knew that his sight had been restored?  He would desire to get out into the light to see all the things he had been missing.  In the same way, when God removes the veil so we can see His glory, we will desire to do so, and that leads to the second thing we must remember for proper spiritual development, which I will take up in my next post.

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