Sunday, January 29, 2012

both and

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. (2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)

18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV)



There is something about the relationship between beholding, reflecting, and being transformed that really bears paying attention to.  And it is captured in a very subtle way in this very verse.  Do you see it?  The word that is used here in 2 Corinthians 3 is translated different ways in different versions of scripture.  The main two camps being, that we behold God’s glory and therefore are transformed by it.  And the second being we reflect God’s glory as the moon does the light of the sun.  Isn’t it great that God uses a word here that can be translated either way?  Isn’t it just like him to do that?  Isn’t it just like God to use a word that is not either or but both and?  I love that.  I love it because it means both are true…and intimately connected.  It is by beholding Him (constantly fixing our eyes upon Him, like a groom who can’t take his eyes off of his beautiful bride) that we are changed into His likeness—transformed—and, in turn, reflect that glory to those around us.  Moses veiled his face because he didn’t want the people to see the glory fading away, but when we behold Him we receive a glory that is not only unfading, but actually ever-increasing.  So let us behold/reflect that we might be transformed more and more into His likeness.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

washed

…so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 
     He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
     Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
     “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
     Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (John 13:4-8)

Years ago I was at a weekend camp with kids and leaders from my community.  My job for the weekend was to make sure all of the leaders, who were there with their high school friends, had everything they needed for a fruitful and successful experience.  Just before our main meeting on Saturday night, one of our leaders came to me with a dilemma.  His cabin and another cabin of guys, from a rival high school, had been in conflict all weekend, several times being on the verge of violence.  His dilemma was that during the free time, just before our evening meeting, some kids from the other cabin had come in and vandalized his cabin.  His fear was that if the guys in his cabin went up after the meeting and saw what the other cabin had done, there was sure to be a fight.  He wondered if I might be able to go up during the meeting and take care of whatever damage might have been inflicted.  So after making sure everyone was in the meeting and taking care of a couple of more quick requests, I headed up to survey the damage.

 As soon as I walked in the door I couldn’t believe my eyes…or nose.  What these guys had done was come in and take a crap right in the middle of the floor of their rival cabin.  And not only that, they had taken the excrement and spread it all over the walls.  When I walked into the bathroom, I could quickly see that they had done the same thing there as well; spreading the nastiness all over those walls too.  It didn’t take long before I realized exactly what I had to do.  While the entire camp sat in club listening to the incredible story of what Jesus had done on the Cross, I would be on my hands and knees cleaning this incredibly nasty mess off the floors and walls.  I must admit that, as I began the process, I was not pleased—and that’s putting it mildly.

So what do you do?  You get over it, you roll up your sleeves, and you get to work.  It wasn’t until about half way through the process that I was in a state to hear anything other than my anger and frustration.  But as I continued on, I began to realize that God was right there in the midst of it all.  This is exactly where Jesus would be; just as he was when we bent down to wash the disciple’s dirty feet—why in the world would Almighty God stoop that low?  Only because of Love.   As a matter of fact that was not all, God had something more to say to me.  “You know that the kids that did this are listening to the story of my great love for them right now don’t you?  You see what you are doing right there, cleaning that crap off of everything?  That’s what I’m doing for them right now—even as they hear the story of my Passion.  I am washing them.  I’m cleaning their filth and their stench and their nastiness with my very own hands; with my very own blood.  And you know what else?  I did the same thing for you.  You were exactly like them; covered in your own sin and filth and nastiness.  I got my hands involved in your shit, I washed you clean, I made you whole.”  And before I knew it, tears were streaming down my cheeks…tears of joy, tears of gratitude, tears of recognition of the depths of His amazing love…tears of peace.  I, indeed, had been washed as white as snow by the loving hands—and blood—of my Creator.  Only because of Love.  Thanks be to God!!!


P.S.  I really haven’t ever told people this story before.  It is something that has kind of been between me and God up until now.  I think that’s because, for a long time, my telling of it would’ve been mostly about me…and now it seems obvious to me that it’s ALL about Him.










Monday, January 9, 2012

stories

Immediately after my calling—without consulting anyone around me and without going up to Jerusalem to confer with those who were apostles long before I was—I got away to Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus, but it was three years before I went up to Jerusalem to compare stories with Peter. (Galatians 1:16-18)



I love that the first thing Paul and Peter did when they got together, for the very first time, was tell stories.  Can you imagine being a fly on the wall?  There is something about the telling of our stories (or of God’s story in us) that is very rich and life giving; it’s almost like the stories must be told in order to have their fully desired effect in our hearts and lives and souls.  And the funny thing is that I’m not sure who they have the bigger impact on, the hearer or the teller.  Obviously there is something wonderful about hearing stories of how God grabbed someone’s heart or made someone whole; but there is also this strange and wonderful dynamic that takes place in the heart of the teller even as the story is being told.  It is as if somehow it is continuing to move and to grow in his heart and soul even as he shares what he has seen or heard.  Do you know what I’m talking about?  It’s those times when you are in the middle of telling some incredible story of God’s Spirit and God’s work, and you actually begin to hear what you are saying…and be completely captured by it.  It is almost as if you didn’t completely realize what all was going on until you began to tell it, and as you opened your mouth it is almost as if the story began telling itself and was just using your mouth as its vehicle.  After all, it is not your story, or even mine (or theirs for that matter), but the story of God.  It is His, and something about its quality tells us that.  Somehow if the story was only about me, or about you, it wouldn’t carry the same weight; it wouldn’t have the same impact.  It would fall lifeless to the ground and die—so many of my stories have suffered that fate through the years simply because I didn’t yet understand that the story wasn’t about me, but about Him.  Stories about Him have life; they live on and produce their fruit long after their telling.  It is simply beautiful.    

I have had the pleasure of experiencing this a lot this fall, as one story after another has simply unfolded before my very eyes; as if the story itself was somehow longing to be seen and heard…and told.  I’m just grateful for the grace (and it is completely grace) to pay attention and to recognize even a little of what God was up to at the moment.  Thanks be to God!