There is power when the Word of God is read in humble dependence upon the Holy Spirit for His leading. And it is powerful when the body of Christ is reading the Word of God together. In preparation for our time this Sunday in Ezekiel 37:1-14, let us read together another passage which speaks to God’s work of transformation in our lives.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 1st
Larger Portion of Scripture - Exodus 34:29-35, 2 Corinthians 3:1-18
Focused Passage for Reflection - 2 Corinthians 3:12-18
Reflecting on the Text:
Self help gurus make a lot of money these days. They come in to town, put on a big show, and motivate their hearers to do more, faster and smarter. It all sounds good, and it works for a time. But the motivation fades because at the core of their being, the self help hearers were never really changed.
In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul contrasts the fading glory of the old with the lasting glory of the new. He does so by drawing from Moses’ experience in the wilderness. In Exodus, when Moses would speak with God, his face would shine with the glory of God. This vision of Moses radiating the glory of God so scared the Israelites that he had to wear a veil over his face. Paul looks back on Moses’ veil and speaks of the fading glory of a hope centered on the people’s ability to obey. You see, like the motivation of the self help gurus, obedience never really lasts…at least not as a source of hope. That is because with hardened minds (and hardened hearts) sinful man cannot obey God (Romans 8:7-8).
But hope is not lost, because we have a better hope. The Christian’s hope is in the lasting obedience of Jesus. This is the hope of an unfading glory given by God, by which, we are being transformed more and more into the image of Christ. This is the hope of glory received, through a transformation experienced. Neither of which will fade.
As Paul points to this true glory, he writes mournfully of those who still read the Word through veiled faces. He writes of the Jews who still falsely believe their obedience to the law will grant them favor with God. The same is true of many today who might label themselves as “Christian”, but who live in dependence upon their own goodness and obedience. These people walk around with veiled faces, unable to understand the Word, unable to turn away from self dependence and to the Lord. With veiled faces, they look to self improvement rather than transformation.
The transformation described in verse 18 is a passive transformation. The Christian is “being transformed” into a new creation, one which requires a death to self death. Yet through self death comes a new and glorious life. And a new a glorious vision as the veil is removed and we are able to behold the glory of God.
So where do we get this new, unveiled vision of God’s unfading glory? Where do we receive this transformation. It is not through a self help guru or a motivational speaker. No, we see God in His Word. And His Word comes alive to us through the leading of His Spirit as He continues His work of transformation in us.
Questions for personal reflection:
What is the difference between self improvement and Holy Spirit wrought transformation? One requires self effort. One requires self death. To which hope are you clinging?
When you read of the freedom which comes through the presence of the Spirit of the Lord, where does your mind go? How do you define that freedom? Is it a license to do as you wish? Or, is it a freedom to behold your God and to be transformed into the image of Christ?
How does reading this passage in context give you a better understanding of this often repeated phrase?
What might it look like for you to live in light of Holy Spirit given freedom and transformation?