Beholding. . . in the Mirror
Note: As I have mentioned earlier, 1997 was a HUGE year for this seeker on the pilgrimage. I wrote this piece during that time as my journey made dramatic shifts from a focus on “doing” — Bible Study, church, the “right thing” — toward simply “being” focusing on quiet, contemplative prayer, and “practicing the presence” as Brother Lawrence said. The basis for my whole identity shifted from me — who I was, what I did, and how well I did it — to Christ. Not the church, not the Christian faith tradition, but Christ — who he was and is and living in union and communion with him. As my focus has shifted through the years, I have come to believe that the most important thing for me in my faith journey is becoming christian. Notice that is with a small “c” meaning Christ – like, and not necessarily the “C” of the Christian faith tradition.
Beholding . . . In the Mirror. . .With Open Face
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed in the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. II Corinthians 3:18 (King James Version)
As I study and meditate upon II Corinthians 3:18, I become more convinced that within it we are given the “recipe” for the christian — “Christ” — life. I use the word “recipe” somewhat with tongue in cheek for I know we as a society, as a nation, and as a people clamor for neat packages. We want to manage in one minute, improve our golf swing in five easy lessons, and become effective people in seven steps. I admit unashamedly that I have had my days of adherance to seemingly reasonable, simple step-by-step methods for efficacy and management of all areas of life.
However, over the past several years, and particularly the last two, I have increasingly experinenced that the “recipes”, for the most part, just don’t work in the vast complexities and mysteries of the processes of life. However, if we consider this a “recipe” verse for the “Christ” life, what are the basic ingredients and procedure? First, there is the individual, you and I. Second ingredient is the Christ, Jesus — the Lord — and finally the Spirit of the Lord. Rather simple thus far — me, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Now, what do I do with the basic ingredients!
I sit myself before Christ, the Lord , and I look at Him. Now, friends, this is not just a simple behold — lo, look, see. This is beholding! This is the Greek word katoptrizomai, a comparative of the word kata which frequently denotes intensity, and a derivative of the word optomai which means “to gaze with wide-open eyes, as at something remarkable”. So, here is the picture: I am sitting before the Christ intensely gazing with wide-open eyes at the remarkable Lord. I suppose the remarkableness would most definitely be His glory. What do you think?
Now that we are beholding the glory of Christ, the Lord , what happens? It is as if the Lord becomes a mirror, “as in a glass”. As I sit before the Lord, my mirror, the reflection, or the image I see of myself, is my true self created in His image. Even as I continue to still and humble myself before my “mirror”, my Lord, I am changed into “the same image”, His image — the image in which I was truly created. How in this world can just looking in a mirror change my image? I must admit that looking in the mirror most mornings does change my image, but not without a great deal of effort on my part and the application and use of numerous substances and devices. Blow dryer, curling iron, and several cosmetic products just to mention a few.
However, when it comes to being changed before the mirror of the Lord, the only things needed are that we come; that we come with “open face”; and that we be willing to surrender and submit to “the Spirit of the Lord.” In order to understand how we come with “open faces” or “unveiled faces” as used in the New International Version, it might be helpful to look at II Corinthians 3: 12-17. In these verses we are told that we have a hope, and with that hope we can be very bold before the Lord. We do not have to put a veil over our face as Moses did to keep the people from seeing that his face was losing the radiance which was received while in the Lord’s presence. You can check this out in Exodus 34: 33-35. Under the old covenant during Mose’s time he was the only one, as God’s appointed leader, who could be bold and come before the Lord. Now, however, we can be bold and come before the Lord with open face, receive his radiance, his glory, and then walk among men without a veil to hide the fact that the radiance is diminishing . In fact, we can reflect the radiance of the Lord to others. In essense we can become mirrors ourselves. We are to become mirrors as the Christ within is reflected to others.
Brothers and sisters! Perhaps I just got a glimpse of heaven Have you ever seen the bright reflection of a mirror in the sun.? So bright you can’t even look at it. Think of it. Revelation 1:16 tells us “His (the Lord’s) face was like the sun shining in all its brillance.” With the Son shining on the multitude of those who have been transformed into his image — those who have become mirrors, a “sea of glass” before the throne (Rev.4:6) — I can’t imagine the magnitude of the brightness. Nor can I fanthom my light sensitive eyes tolerating the experience. Just another reason for the necessity and the promise of our lowly bodies being transformed to be like His. Isn’t God good! He gives us a sight to behold and then he enables us to behold it. Speaking of beholding, let’s get back to the original idea of open (unveiled) faces. (Please do pardon my slight distraction while sharing in my excitement.)
We are not as Moses. We are not limited in who can come before the Lord, nor do we have to cover our faces afterward. Why? Look again at II Corinthians 3: 12. “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” What is the hope that we have? Jesus Christ — the Christ within, “the hope of glory.”(Col. 1; 27). So here’s the scoop! Through and because of the Christ within we can come boldly before the Lord, the mirror, and sit and behold the glorious image which transforms us into that same glorious image, the image we were created to reflect.
Now exactly how does this occur and how long does it take? Beats Me! Probably a lifetime, but I don’t know the answer for myself or anyone else. Returning to the recipe analogy, I am not the cook! (Thank God! Cooking has never been one of my strong suits.) Who is? “…even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” So even with the recipe the transformation into the “Christ” life for each of us is still a mystery. Given the mystery are we willing to be faithful in coming before the Lord? Are we willing to abandon ourselves and surrender the transformation of our lives to the mystery of the Spirit of the Lord? Are we willing to trust God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and behold Him with open face as in a glass and remain content to just “be” in His image. I find these to be questions I must ask and answer daily, sometimes several times a day!