Why the Opposite of Glory is Shame

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2 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV)

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

CONSIDER THIS

ME: THIS IS THE WAY—
YOU: FROM GLORY TO GLORY!

What is the opposite of love? Is it hatred? No, it is sin. And what is the opposite of glory? Is it humility? No, it is shame. Paul makes quite the assertion. We noted it yesterday and yet passed right over it. Here it is again for our consideration:

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. (2 Corinthians 3:13)

Let’s turn it around into a self-examining question: Are we like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away? 

Do we . . . okay, do I put a veil over my face (how about we just call it a mask), to keep people from seeing the real me? We don’t mean to do it. It is not maliciously intentional or willfully deceptive. We do this because we are not deeply secure in who we most deeply are at the core of our being. And why aren’t we secure in who we most truly are? It is usually because somewhere along the way we have been wounded at the core of our being. We have father wounds and mother wounds and stranger wounds and trauma wounds and wounds from friends who betrayed us and wounds from so-called friends who deceived us and abandonment wounds from people who didn’t abandon us but just neglected us to the point where we felt abandoned. These wounds lead some to stratospheric achievements and others to devastating addictions. They lead some to palatial estates and others to prison cells. 

Why do we hide anything from anyone, anyway? Why do we cover our faces? Shame. To one degree or another, we all carry shame. Shame is the unfortunate native condition of fallen humanity. Shame tells us we are way too much or never enough. This is why we spend endless energy unwittingly developing and maintaining an image, a covering, by which we can be seen without being known. And for the longest time we don’t even know we are doing it. It’s why the real work of transformation is not active work but passive because as surely as we are trying to actively transform ourselves we play into the old strategy of image development and management.

The work of transformation is not our work but the work of the Holy Spirit. And it doesn’t come from doing all the things Christians tell each other they have to do to find favor with God—reading the Bible, praying, fasting, resting, churching, behaving, and so on. All of our most well-intentioned, highly disciplined religious behavior can quite easily and self-deceivingly become just another veil. Far from believing and behaving, the secret of the transformed life is beholding and becoming; for we become who we behold. The work of transformation is deep identity work. Hear again my super amplified version of the text:

And we, who with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into his image, the very likeness of Jesus Christ, with ever increasing glory, from one degree of glory to the next. This is the way—from glory to glory. And all of this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 

This way from glory to glory is all about beholding the risen and ascended Jesus Messiah— exalted on the cross, atoning for our sin by becoming sin, covering our shame by becoming shamefully uncovered, removing our veils by rending the veil of the temple and thereby the temples of our hearts, and yes leading us out of hiding by hiding himself in our innermost lives. Many of us have dealt with the condition of our sin. We have received the forgiveness of Jesus. Most of us, however, have never dealt with the condition of our shame and all the surface-level, false image work it has led to. It sticks to us like darkness and clings like grave clothes.

The most glorious glory of all is this: The hour of Jesus’ greatest shame was transformed into the hour of his greatest glory. 

And let me say a special word of grace to those among us who are nearing the gates of ultimate glory. It is not too late for Jesus to heal those old wounds. It is not too late for the Spirit to remove those veils. There is no need to limp across the finish line. There is still time to run like the wind as on a chariot of fire. Forget your legacy, which so often is just a way of trying to manage our image beyond our life. Leave that to Jesus. Take up the holiness of love and the love of holiness—the extraordinary, extravagant, ever-increasing glorious life of Jesus Christ. That’s all the legacy you will ever need. 

I used to wonder and concern myself with who would come to my funeral and what they would say of me. Now, I couldn’t care less. It never crosses my mind. Why? Because I know what Jesus says about me. I hear it every single day. John David, you are my son, you are my beloved, and with you I am well pleased. He says the same thing over you, dear daughter, and over you, dear son. 

Increasingly, as I hear these words, I see him. I see him cupping my face in his hands and looking me square in the eyes as he says it. It brings to mind verse 16:

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

In the mythological novel by C. S. Lewis, Till We All Have Faces, in a reference to the mythological gods of which he wrote, he asks the famed question:

“How can they meet us face-to-face till we have faces?”

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

This is the way—from glory to glory.

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, it is really so incredibly simple—to look full into the face of Jesus, the one in whose image we have been made. Teach our hearts to behold him; to look until we are seeing, to listen until we are hearing, to turn to him until we have turned to him and then to turn to him even more. We confess how even the things of faith can distract us from the person of Jesus. I think of the old song today, “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus.” I think we will sing it as our prayer today. 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. 

Praying in Jesus’ name, amen. 

(If you want to sing along with me, listen to the recording at the link up top.)

THE QUESTION

Are you seeing the difference between our deep identity and our surface-level image; between our true self and our false image? 

P.S. What’s coming Next?

Tomorrow we wrap this Glory to Glory series. Monday we will begin a ten day series of Daily Text greatest hits to celebrate the close of the Daily Text and prepare for the launch of the Wake-Up Call. The Wake-Up Call begins officially on Monday, October 3 with a two month series: The Harvest of the Kingdom is the Fruit of the Spirit. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I believe that the contrast between our true identity in Christ and our self made image that is projected to the world boils down to this: Who are we most trying to please, God or man?

  2. Our self-created “Me Hall of Fame” (often called a resume) can distract us and others from our shame, but it can’t unleash God’s power of forgiveness and restoration that will completely remove it. The shame-denying veil we wear motivates the disparity between who we are and who we pretend to be. That’s because we like Adam and Eve try to hide parts of us from God, other people, and even from self. Meanwhile God asks: “(Your name here) where are you?” He hasn’t lost sight of you and the unpleasant realities you are trying to hide, but you have. God’s asking you to walk in the light — to openly, honestly, and verbally acknowledge where you really are — to freely expose the shame of your rebellious and hurting heart so that He can heal and transform it from glory to glory.

  3. I have worn many masks in my day. Different ones for different scenarios. All to satisfy little ‘ol me. As I searched for love, acceptance, worth, identity, and security, I was a one-man, mask-wearing band. Now all I want is for others to see Jesus in me.
    I’ve discovered He fits better when all other masks are first removed.

    Ephesians 4:24
    And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

  4. Today’s text has really got me thinking about what masks or veils I have worn and are wearing for the sake of some perfect religious image I think I need to personify.
    I hope the series From Glory to Glory will be put in buck form.

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