Transformed by Christmas
December 17, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Delighting in the Christmas story is the good fight of faith.
Do you believe that?
Let me explain what we aim for when we celebrate the Christmas story using an unconventional “Christmas” verse. In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul says, “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.”
First, “beholding the glory of the Lord” is delighting in the Christmas story. In 2 Corinthians 3 Paul is explaining the superiority of the new covenant in Christ over the old covenant administered at Sinai by Moses. The old covenant “came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face” (v. 7). The old covenant at Sinai revealed the glory of God. When Paul speaks about the “glory of God (or the Lord)” he is speaking about the goodness and majesty and excellence of God. In the old covenant, God’s holiness and mercy were revealed to the people of Israel.
The old covenant served as a shadow, or foretaste, of the fuller and clearer revelation in the new covenant (cf. Heb. 8:5-6). The covenants, both old and new, center on Jesus Christ. The birth of Jesus is the inauguration of the new covenant of God. As John says, when we “see” Jesus, we see the “glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14).
So, how do “we behold the glory of the Lord”? By seeing and delighting in Jesus, the manifestation of God’s glory. This is what the Christmas story is all about. God, in his covenant faithfulness, sends his only begotten Son to be the righteous King promised to David and the Savior of his people from their sins. This is God’s glory on full display! His holiness, justice, righteousness, mercy, steadfast love, and grace. All wrapped up in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. To behold God’s glory is to marvel at and delight in the wonder of the birth of Christ.
Second, “beholding the glory of the Lord” is the means of being transformed. Look again at 2 Corinthians 3:18. The main clause is “we all are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” The verb is passive. We do not do the transformation. It is something that is done to us. The transformation is described as “into the same image.” This echoes the words of Romans 8:29, “conformed to the image of his Son.” The transformation is into Christlikeness. Paul also says this transformation is incremental, “from one degree of glory to another.” There is no instantaneous transformation into holiness.
The one question every Christian ought to have clearly answered in their mind is “how?” … How is one transformed into the image of Christ? Paul answers that question with the phrase, “beholding the glory of the Lord.” As we behold the glory of the Lord, we are transformed. As we gaze upon, ponder in our minds, and delight our hearts in the glorious work of God in Christ, we are conformed more and more to be like Christ in his holiness.
Delighting in the Christmas story is the good fight of faith. In this story we behold the glory of the Lord and are transformed. May we find great joy in hearing of the birth of Jesus this season!