Thursday, August 22, 2013

FROM GLORY TO GLORY

Paul speaks of a ministry that every Christian is called to, one that does not require particular gifts or talents. It is to be undertaken by all who have been born again, both recognized ministers and laypersons. In fact, this ministry is every believer's first calling and all other endeavors must flow out of it.

No ministry can be pleasing to God unless it is birthed out of this calling. I am talking about the ministry of beholding the face of Christ. Paul says, "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

What does it mean to behold the Lord's glory? Paul is speaking of devoted, focused worship. It is time that is given to God simply to behold Him. And the apostle quickly adds, "Therefore seeing we have this ministry" (4:1). Paul makes it clear that beholding the face of Christ is a ministry we all must devote ourselves to.

The Greek word for beholding in this verse is a very strong expression. It indicates not just taking a look, but "fixing the gaze." It means deciding, "I won't move from this position. Before I do anything else, before I try to accomplish a single thing, I must be in God's presence."

Many Christians misinterpret the phrase "beholding as in a glass" (3:18). They think of a mirror, with Jesus' face being reflected back to them. But that is not Paul's meaning here. He is speaking of an intensely focused gaze, as if peering at something earnestly through a glass, trying to see it more clearly. We are to "fix our eyes" this way, determined to see God's glory in the face of Christ. We are to shut ourselves in the holy of holies, with but one obsession: to gaze so intently, and to commune with such devotion, that we are changed.

Paul says the person who is shut in with Christ, beholding Him, is being transfigured. What happens as a believer beholds the face of Christ? Paul writes, "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).