The Word: “From one degree of glory to another”

Published 10:42 am Saturday, January 20, 2024

“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.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Many people like to set goals at the beginning of a new year. Some of the most popular this year were improved mental health, improved fitness, to lose weight and an improved diet. But by mid to late January many of those goals are in tatters. The workout room at the gym which was packed at the beginning of the month is beginning to thin out. Amongst the many challenges of life it just becomes easier to go back to our comfortable routine. After all, change is really hard.

The apostle Paul points us to the power to bring about real change in our lives in 2 Corinthians 3:18. He says that when we behold the glory of the Lord we are transformed or changed. Paul goes a step further. He says we are “being transformed” – meaning that we are not the ones bringing about the transformation. We are being transformed by God. There is the power to bring about real change in our lives! Our job is simply to behold the glory of the Lord.

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Throughout 2 Corinthians 3 Paul has made it clear what that looks like by comparing our opportunity to behold the glory of the Lord to Moses’ opportunity. Moses beheld the glory of the Lord by climbing to the top of the mountain where he received the Ten Commandments. Beholding the glory of the Lord transformed Moses. We’re told that whenever he spent time in God’s presence, he came back with his hair standing on end and his face glowing. But eventually his appearance would return to normal. His transformation was only limited.

Moses beheld the glory of the Lord while receiving the Law. In contrast, we have the opportunity to behold the glory of the Lord as we confess our sins and God comes to us in Word and Sacrament to forgive us our sins and give us eternal life. In 1 John 1:9 we read, “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Now that’s real change!

From sinful to holy. From one degree of glory to another. From dead to alive. But beholding that power at work in our lives accomplishes so much more. As we behold the glory of the Lord everyday we fall in love with a God who would do that for us and we learn to trust in Him for all things – for the strength to forgive the unforgivable, to love the unloveable and to become a different person. In fact, Paul says that kind of change is unavoidable when we behold the glory of the Lord!

Rev. Matthew Sorenson is the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. He can be reached at pastor@stjohnsfarmville.org.