Moving around North America is an educational experience. One thing I noted is that my children picked up the characteristics of their friends, particularly their speech patterns. One of them had a friend from Boston and was soon talking as if he were from Boston. Another had friends in California and gained an accent that stuck with her for months after we left that state. Perhaps this is the reason I’m drawn to the thoughts in this passage . . .
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:17–18)
The second part essentially says the same thing about emulating our friends, only this verse says that when I am gazing at the glory of God, He transforms me to be like Him. However, there is a caveat; the process requires an ‘unveiled face’ which is explained in the context of these verses.
They explain how Moses spent time with God and his face shone. However, that shine eventually faded and he covered his face so the people would not see it or the fading. The passage says their hearts were hardened because they were stuck in the ideas of the old covenant based on keeping the Law of God. Only when a person turns to Christ is that veil removed.
This means that looking at Christ has transforming power only if I am not trying to earn the favor of God by my rule-keeping or good deeds or anything else. The change occurs by gazing at His glory, not mixing it with my own efforts.
The first part of those verses offer encouragement. This process happens because of the Holy Spirit. That is, in His presence I am free to be who I am, loved by God and not anxious. I know He loves me. I am accepted in Christ and safe in His care. This is freedom, freedom from the bondage of ‘sin and die’ and the bondage of continually trying to keep a law that I cannot keep.
The changes in my children’s speech patterns eventually faded away, but the changes that God makes in a life that is fixed on Him do not fade. Rather, they increase until the day they are complete.
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2–3)
Jesus, because of this promise, I know that one day the task will be finished — I will be like You. I’m aware that I’ve a long way to go, but You are gracious and patient. You will finish the task and that will be glory for me!