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Reflecting the Lord's glory

What's this verse about?

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory...  (2 Cor 3:18)

Is it about enjoying private devotional experiences with Jesus so that we become like Him?   That's a popular interpretation.  And it's half right.  But it's really not the full story.

The NIV footnote says that 'reflect' can be translated 'contemplate'.  But I think 'reflect' is a better translation.  It's a word that means 'showing like a mirror shows'.  The question is this - Is the mirror-like-ness telling us about how the beholder looks at the mirror?  Or is the mirror-like-ness telling us about how the mirror itself reflects outwardly?

My guess is the latter.  Our faces are like mirrors reflecting outwardly to the world the glory of Jesus.

This fits the context.  Paul has been reminding us about Moses's face-to-face encounters with the Lord (2 Cor 3:7,13).  He put a veil on to stop the Israelites seeing this fading glory.  We though (as v18 says) have unveiled faces.  And so what happens?   Others see the glory of Christ as we reflect it out to the world.

So this verse does indeed depend on our having devotional experiences with Jesus - just as Moses did (e.g. Exodus 33:7-11).  But that in itself will not transform us into Christ's likeness.  Reflecting Christ's glory out into the world - that will transform us.

Which is what the next two chapters of 2 Corinthians are all about.

Too often we think of holiness as one thing and mission as another.  Really they are mutually defining and mutually achieved.  Just as God's own being is a being in outreach, so our Christian character is a character in outreach.  To divorce the two is disastrous.

One of these days I'll write some posts on holiness in mission as parallel to God's being in becoming.  One of these days...

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0 thoughts on “Reflecting the Lord's glory

  1. Glen

    Yes indeed Dave. The value of 'reflect outwardly' over 'contemplate' is that then it's not just 'transformed FOR mission' but 'transformed IN mission'. Which is way cool.

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