Imagine what the Church was like in Corinth. The new believers had serious problems; sexual immorality, cheating one another, social snobbery, division over favourite preachers, lack of understanding about the gifts, worship, marriage, divorce and the resurrection of the body. But the worst thing was the way they’d believed lies about Paul and rejected him and his teaching about the Gospel.
Yet Paul loved them and did everything he could to help them. He believed they would come to believe the truth and abandon false teaching. In one of his letters he says he’s confident they are all being transformed into the image of God ‘from one degree of glory to another’.
He included all of us in this confident statement; ‘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 3:18). It’s everyone who believes in Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. When we first believe and trust in Jesus the ‘veil’ is removed from our eyes and we’re able to see the Lord’s glory. As we go on looking at His glory we’re gradually transformed into His image, step by step.
Later in his letter Paul says ‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us’ (2 Corinthians 4:6-7).
It’s a beautiful, poetic image of the Holy Spirit within us, giving us the power to follow Jesus, even though, in ourselves, we are as weak and fragile as a clay pot. But maybe you aren’t convinced right now that you are being transformed into the Lord’s image. Perhaps there are hindrances that need to be dealt with so you can go forward, co-operating with the work of the Holy Spirit within you. Poetic images focus on a single aspect of truth. Unlike a clay pot we’ve been given the gift of free will and haven’t been created as robots. There are always choices to be made – like the choice to keep on looking at God’s glory.
But as we make that choice we have a further promise. ‘Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day’ and we are being prepared for ‘an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank you for Your Word to us through the apostle Paul in his letter. May we allow You to transform us into Your image as we fix our gaze on You and Your Son Jesus. Amen.