WHEN MY DAUGHTERS WERE LITTLE we bought them glow-in-the-dark lizards. This was a big deal in 1980. After the plastic toys sat under a lamp or out in the sun for a few hours they would somehow absorb the light. When night came they would glow, sometimes for hours.
This is a parable of the Christian life. God created us in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-28). In other words, he created us to glow with his moral glory. God’s “image and likeness” is all about moral glory. It is secondarily about intelligence, creativity, or the ability to communicate. God created us to reflect his moral beauty back to him. In other words, he created us to “glow” with God’s light.
Like plastic toys, we glow to the degree that we absorb God’s light. Another word for Christ’s light is his “life.” It was Christ’s relationship with his Father.
“In his was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).
Christ’s “life” with his Father was the source of his “light.” He was the fulfillment of all God created humans to be. He was “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). The fruit of the Spirit is another word for God’s light. Jesus exuded love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). How do we get this way? How do we glow with God’s light?
The Bible is very clear about the mechanics of becoming a glow-in-the-dark Christian.
“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. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Notice, that the text is about how we are transformed into God’s image. It is describing how we accomplish the purpose for our creation. Second, notice how the text uses “image” and “glory” as synonyms.
The writers of scripture state this principle many ways. Psalm 115 tells us that we become like the object of our worship. Colossians 3 exhorts us to set our minds on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 1 John 3 prophecies that when we see him we will be like him because we will see him as he is. Jesus said, “the eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). A healthy spiritual eye gazes on the glory of Christ and begins to glow with God’s image—spiritual light.
What does it look like practically to “behold the glory of the Lord?” It means practicing the spiritual disciplines of daily prayer and Bible study, weekly church attendance, and participation in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Most importantly, however, it means a focus on the cross, for that is the point in history where God’s glory glows most with the greatest intensity. There we see love that surpasses knowledge, supernatural wisdom that sums up the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, infinite justice, perfect humility expressed by obedience, and ineffable mercy and grace. It is the consummate display of the image and likeness that God created us to model.
Two more principles. First, the lizard’s light decreases and eventually goes out. But those who “behold the glory of the Lord” this way experience an increasing and “permanent” glory (2 Corinthians 3:11).
“The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn growing brighter and brighter until the fullness of day” (Proverbs 4:18).
Second, the more we behold this glory the more we will want to behold it. The less we behold, the less we will want to behold. To he that has more will be given, but to he that has not even what he has will be taken away (Matthew 13:12).
So start beholding. Start gazing. Let the glory of the Lord saturate and transform you into light-emitting Believers shining forth in a dark and fallen world.
Thanks this is really good. For it is Gods will your sanctification. Helpful to see sanctification as it grows in my life. I have been pondering the “truth of the gospel” such as Col 1:6 or the gospel of the kingdom that Jesus preached. Your article helps with that. Tim
Tim: Thanks for the comment, and thanks for taking the time to read. Looking forward to catching up this Summer.