2 Corinthians 3:18. 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.
Do you want to change? Most of us do. We all want to change something in our lives, get better, sin less.
But the great paradox is that the more we try to change the more likely it is that we won’t. Sure, we might exchange one behavior for another. But is that the change that we really want and need? What Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 3:18 is far more than just behavior modification. It’s transformation into the image of Christ.
So if we don’t change by trying to change, what is the answer?
True change happens when we behold the glory of the Lord. When we gaze longingly upon him. In other words, when we love him. Love is what changes our hearts. We change when our affections change. Our desires drive the transformation into the image of Christ that we desperately both need and long for. God knows it takes much more than just changing our intellect to transform us into Christ. It takes changing our very longings in order to bring about the character of Christ in us.
Here is one of the most important truths of our spiritual growth: if you want to overcome a sin in your life, stop obsessing with overcoming that sin in your life. Our sin comes from disordered loves. This means loving something bad that you have no right to love. Or, more likely, loving something good but loving it more than God and others. Loving it in order to feel good about yourself. Or, as the Bible would call it, idolatry. And anything that you make into an idol will ultimately destroy you. It won’t handle the weight of your worship. It WILL let you down eventually.
The only way to overcome your love for something that is destroying you, is to love something else more than you love that thing. And there’s only one thing we can love and worship wholeheartedly without it destroying us – God himself. Why? Because only he is both perfectly good and eternal. Everything else in life will either get worse over time or come to and end. Everything else will let you down or turn you inward to self worship.
Beholding the glory of the Lord is the fusion of our loves and our worship. God changes our loves by our worship. Our loves change by the day to day habitual ways that I see life. Your life IS your worship. So everything you do in life is forming your heart. In other words, you’re always beholding something. You’re constantly longing for something. You’re always thinking about what you desire. Or, in the words of Dr. Hannibal Lechter, “you desire (or covet) what you see every day.”
Warning: creepy clip alert.
The good news is that the veil has been lifted by the grace of God and we are free. Free to to see the unveiled glory of God in the person and work of Christ (the gospel), and free to love that glory more than we love anything else. This is far beyond obeying biblical principles or having spiritual experiences. Please, Christian, don’t let your life be reduced down to those two things. Life is so much more. It is worship. It is looking into the face of God through Christ and his Body and loving and trusting him more for it.
“To live is Christ” is to desire Christ so much that we worship him. And it is worshipping him so much that we love him. This happens as we behold his grace and truth in the everyday moments of life.
In what ways do you behold God in Christ? Have you experienced the heart change that comes by worship? How does our union with Christ, his indwelling life, allow us to behold him constantly?