The Spirit is Good (6)
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3.18
The being indoors
The great Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo is reported to have said of sculpting, “Every block of stone has a statute inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Michelangelo was able to see in a block of stone morethan just a block of stone. By fixing his mind on the image he intended, then chipping, sanding, smoothing, and polishing the stone, he was able to create some of the most magnificent sculptures the world as ever seen.
Gerard Manly Hopkins, that great 19thcentury poet, took Michelangelo’s observation further, and pondered the uniqueness of each creature, its “being indoors”, what it is within, and thus how it expresses itself:
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves – goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.
But he went further still, and claimed for human beings a divine “being indoors” that, by the grace of God, takes an infinite variety of forms:
I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eyes what in God’s eye he is –
Christ – for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
In these ideas, Michelangelo and Gerard Manley Hopkins captured the essence of what the Spirit of God does in each one who believes in Jesus.
Do you know who you are?
My late father-in-law, Dr. Lane Adams, once told me of an interview he saw with the famous actor Kirk Douglas. It seems Mr. Douglas was driving the coastal highway on one occasion, when he passed a sailor, lugging a duffle bag and thumbing for a ride. Driving past the man, Douglas pulled over, and motioned for him to come on. The sailor ran up to the car, threw his duffle bag into the back seat and sat down in the front. He looked at Douglas, then looked again and said, in astonishment, “Do you know who you are?”
Every Christian should ask himself the same question: Do you know who you are? Or rather, do you know who you are in the eyes of the Holy Spirit of God?
We might think of ourselves as nobody special, but the Spirit sees Jesus in us. On the other hand, our view of ourselves might be more exalted than is justified; but even then, no matter how high and overblown our self-image, Jesus is greater, and Jesus is alive within us, straining to come forth.
The Spirit of God is transforming each of us who believes in Jesus into the very image of Jesus, without any of us losing that distinctive “being indoors” that is uniquely us. In every believer, the Spirit “does one thing and the same”: He transforms us into the image of Jesus, “Deals out that being indoors” which is Jesus in us. But He does it in “ten thousand places”, indeed, in ten thousand times ten thousand places, shining and refracting Jesus through our limbs and eyes and faces, in all our words and deeds.
We are children of God, adopted in Jesus Christ, indwelled by the Spirit of God, and in the process of being transformed from blockheads to blessings under the sculping power of the Holy Spirit.
We have a part
And we have a part in this. The Spirit is working out the Lord’s salvation in us as He exposes us to the glory of the Lord in all the various places and ways God is making Himself known. The radiance of God’s presence, the beauty of His holiness, the enormity of His goodness, and the unwavering and uninterruptible power of His love bathe us with divine glory, reaching to the depths of our soul – heart, mind, and conscience.
From there, the glory revealed to us strains to boil up and flow over throughus, as we submit to the Spirit and walk in His paths, fixing our eyes on Jesus and stepping into every situation ready to go beyond our own strength into the strength of the Spirit, for the glory of God the Father.
Do you know who you are? You’re not the blockhead you think. You have a Being indoors, within your soul, Who stretches and strains to come to expression in all your words and deeds. Seek the Lord and His glory. Let the Spirit open the Word and world of God to you, so that the goodness and beauty of the Lord break forth upon you, and let Him chip and sand and polish your soul so that you are transformed, step by step, attitude by attitude, gesture by gesture, situation by situation, day by day, glory by glory into the unique expression of Jesus, percolating within you.
Thus the goodness of the Lord will come forth in you, to the praise of the glory of His grace.
1. How can you know that the Spirit of God is working within you to transform you into the image of Jesus Christ?
2. What prevents us from growing more consistently in Jesus? How can we overcome these hindrances?
3. What can believers do for one another to participate in the Spirit’s work of shaping us into the image of Jesus Christ?
Next steps – Conversation: Can you feel Jesus being formed in you? Can you see Jesus being formed in your fellow believers? Share your thoughts about this with some Christian friends.
T. M. Moore
The Spirit of God executes the will of King Jesus, as His Agent on earth, for the progress of His Kingdom. Learn more about the kingship of Jesus and our place in it by ordering a copy of the book, The Kingship of Jesus, from our online store (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.