After six days Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. Matthew 17.1-2
from “Scripture in light of First Century History” at http://newjerusalemcommunity.blogspot.com/2012/04/moses-and-elijah-were-consider-to-be.html
In the course of daily life, “Bob” is absolutely one of my favorite people to meet. He unfailingly makes me laugh, and he is quick to do me special favors such as giving me his private email if I should have questions or need assistance. Once when I entered the place of business where he works in a foul mood, he gave me a silly gift to make me smile. He is, as southerners say, a “hoot.” Not long after we met, he invited me to join him on Sunday morning at a gay bar in Galveston to drink champagne, eat strawberries and watch the homeless people. Leaving aside my decided lack of amusement in watching homeless people for entertainment, I explained that I am a minister and attend worship on Sundays. I thought maybe a subtle opening would work, but apparently not. Recently, “Bob” regaled me with an account of nude bartending at a weekend party for gay men, to which I responded before my brain could stop my tongue, “I’d have given ten dollars not to have thought of that.” This hurt his feelings, and he went on to inform me he had been a nude model in art schools, and lots of women thought he had a good body. Be that as it may, nude art is not the same thing as naked bartending. Besides, I am equally uninterested in imagining nude bartenders at heterosexual parties. There are things in life that are not necessary for me to contemplate.
I did not say that. Instead, I tried to think of a diplomatic way out of it, something to the effect of “middle-aged, fat women try not to think about naked young men…” I don’t know if that is true in general, but at that moment it was all I could come up with to salve his ego and get out of the conversation. Still, “Bob” is winsome every time I see him.
“Jane” on the other is less pleasant. To get legal residence in the US, she married one man to later move in with another. Somewhere along the way, she got pregnant and gave birth to a precious baby boy, the father of whom is not clear. Although I have tried to befriend her, she has not been receptive. Moving back and forth between men, she is angry a lot, and her screaming arguments are a regrettably familiar sound. Although she seems to be getting her way most of the time, “Jane” is definitely not a happy person, nor does she appear a particularly sober person. Rarely have I seen her that she does not have some type of alcohol in her hand.
Every day, all around us, multi-faceted individuals live lives in search of something to make them feel good about themselves. They may do so with a modicum of success, as “Bob” would tell you he does, and they may do so in misery, as “Jane” looks to be. These people are our neighbors, store clerks we meet, professionals in the next office, or even our friends and family members. Everybody is searching for his own identity and place. We all want to know who we are and what our destiny is. That question is the angst of so many young lives and so many middle-aged lives when we think about it.
Then there are those who seem to know from early on exactly who they want to become and go about achieving their dreams successfully. A childhood friend of my sister’s decided she wanted to go to college, work a while, get married, have two children, and live a perfect, respectable life. Thus far, she has attained the exact goals she set during adolescence. One can only pray nothing upsets the balance of her life for she is woefully unprepared for unplanned events beyond her control.
The story of Jesus’ transfiguration on the side of the mount is well known to us all. What few of us realize is the enormous significance of the transfiguration for our own lives. When Jesus was transfigured, His human Body revealed the divine life of God within Him. That is relevant for humans. We have bodies. The transfiguration reveals the divinity of Jesus, yes, but it also reveals the destiny of humanity. The Son of God was always divine, full of uncreated life and light beyond our capacity to imagine. At the transfiguration, Peter, James, and John all saw Jesus for Who He truly was. But they saw something more, something they would not understand until after Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit began to teach them the meaning of they had seen and heard.
By giving us His Holy Spirit, God forms us into a new creation, and the destiny of that new creation is the transfigured being revealed in Jesus’ own transfiguration. The transfiguration is the revelation not only of Who Jesus was, but also who we are to become. His human Body and nature were transfigured, not His divine nature. Jesus’ divine nature was always…, well, divine. Someday, when sin no longer plagues our body and soul, full of the Holy Spirit we too shall be transformed, transfigured into a being of unimaginable glory.
In The Weight of Glory CS Lewis says it best, I think. “It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinies.”
I do not know how to share with either “Bob” or “Jane” their true destiny. I do not know how to bring up the Gospel so as to invite them to new life. What I do know is that the opportunity will not present itself until I first love them as they are. This is the Gospel emphasis on love. We cannot hope to offer life unless we love first. What stranger to Christ can you love through Him for Him this week?
In Christ –
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