Transfigured: To change in outward appearance or form; transform; renew. Now, most of us cannot say we have been “transfigured”, although we might say we have been “transformed”. When we say we have been transformed, we are really saying we have had a change in condition, nature, or character. In other words, we have been “converted”. Maybe this is why Christianity uses the term “convert” when they describe an individual who has asked the Lord Jesus to be their Savior. If you recall the story of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from God, you might remember he came off the mountain with a face “glowing” so brightly the people asked him to cover it up with a veil. They were caught a little off-guard by the radiance of God’s glory in Moses’ life. He had been “transformed” so significantly with his face-to-face experience with God that most around him just could not behold the glory “full on”. Imagine – being so “transformed” so as to have others actually NOTICE the change in nature!
Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18 MSG)
Nothing describes what happens in an individual who begins to commune with God on a regular basis better than being “transfigured” – changed so much so as to display the glory of God in their life. Why? Nature is exchanged – our sin nature is replaced with God’s nature making our hardened hearts beat with a new intensity for God alone. Paul tells the Corinthian church, “God removes the veil”, bringing each of us face-to-face with him. When the veil is removed, through the acceptance of the work of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, we no longer have limited access to God. In fact, we come face-to-face with him, beholding his glory “full on”. Paul describes the transformation as one of recognizing God as a living, personal presence. Nothing says it better – when we are “converted”, we begin to move from a place as an outsider to a place in the very presence of the holiness of God himself.
I find it encouraging to recognize “conversion” is both immediate and continual. You see, Paul says we “immediately” recognize that God is a personal, living presence. Yet, he also reminds us our lives gradually become “brighter” and “more beautiful” as we see God entering our lives. So, conversion carries both this immediate and long-term effect. So many times, we think of conversion as something which is just immediate – in a particular moment of time. The truth is, conversion can take a while – there is a process which evolves until it is fully complete.
I gave my grandsons some smalls kits in their stockings this year which were little science projects that would allow them to “grow” crystals. They put these “starter” crystals in a dish, add the right amount of fluid, and then watch over time as they begin to grow into “crystals”. Now, this may not seem real exciting to you, but to a four and eight year old, seeing things “transform” is a big deal! I liken the transformation which takes place in us as we are “converted” to what is going on with those crystals today. Little by little, those “starter” crystals are growing – taking on new form. They are beginning to expand, adding layer upon layer, until they are now beginning to look a little like crystals. There was an immediate change as the starter crystal began to expand a little and the fluid they sat in became the color of the starter crystal, but the real evidence of “crystals” is only now being seen (some two to three weeks later).
The truth is, we jump to conclusions when we don’t see immediate transformation in our lives much like my daughter jumped to the conclusion that this “science project” would be a flop. She was skeptical of these “starter” crystals actually working. The secret was in the “time” if took to see the transformation. The “time” is the object here – all the ingredients were there from the beginning – but in the passing of time, the evidence of the ingredients coming together to form what they were designed to create becomes apparent. This is much the case in our own Christian growth. All the ingredients are there from the beginning, but we have to give it a little time to see the full-on transformation!
Moses didn’t just stroll into God’s presence one day, get all “glowing” with transformed character, and come down to the people a changed man. He spent “time” with God – sometimes long periods of time. In the end, the “ingredients” for transformation were put together – and the evidence of transformation became apparent. We all have the right ingredients – immediately available – but we all need the “time” to allow them to come together as they are designed to. Just sayin!