We all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with everincreasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. –
2 Corinthians 3:18
The word Paul uses for being transformed is metamorphoo, which is obviously the root of our English word “metamorphosis.” Nothing speaks of a thoroughgoing renovation of life any more powerfully than that word.
Transformation is a normal and expected process in the life of one who has encountered Jesus. This is so universal a fact that believers, as well as their leaders, should be alarmed if they experience no change at all. Knowing that, many are drawn toward attempting to transform themselves through some kind of selfimprovement scheme.
But the verb in 2 Corinthians 3:18 is passive, describing an action done to an individual rather than an action taken by that individual. So while there is a clear expectation that following Jesus will lead to an extreme makeover, it is equally clear that we do not—indeed cannot—transform ourselves. All we can do is to understand the process and position ourselves to receive life-changing power from beyond.
Paul is very clear about what powers our change: contemplating the Lord’s glory. Just a few verses after he states this, he explains that God has chosen to bestow his glory on us by putting it on display in the face of Christ. God is as deliberate in doing so as he was when he issued his very first command: “Let there be light.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) There is only one source of transforming power; it is in the face of Jesus and we receive it by beholding his glory.
Just as an individual who desires godly transformation must focus on Jesus, so must a church that wants a clearer vision of its call and mission. It is so easy to focus on other concerns: worship styles, building maintenance, the brotherhood issue du jour, the ins and outs of the cliques in the church, conflict between young and old…and the list goes on. Rather than getting caught up in all of this, leaders would be well-served to point their congregations toward seeing Jesus more clearly. Has Jesus been preached clearly and convincingly from the pulpit? Have Bible classes regularly included deep studies the life of Jesus? Have congregational activities been purposely designed to align with Jesus’ stated purposes, mission, and strategies?
Just as Paul is clear about the power for transformation, he is equally clear about its goal: “we are being transformed into his image.” When we behold Jesus clearly, we begin to look like him. This is true not only of individual believers, but of congregations as well. The Bible teaches clearly that we—collectively—are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). Paul states the goal of the church quite clearly in Ephesians 4:15: “We will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Not only will leaders seek to guide their churches into beholding Jesus, they will be constantly looking for signs that the character of Jesus is being displayed ever more clearly in the life and work of their congregation. This is the only true measure of success for a church.