June 21, 2006

Formed and Transformed

1518 page31 capear the end of Creation week, after God had created the water and dry land; the sun, moon, and stars; the plants and trees; the fish, birds, and animals with simply a command, God did something quite uncharacteristic: He formed man “from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen. 2:7).* While everything else was spoken into existence, God formed Adam with His own hands.
Eve came into existence when God took one of Adam’s ribs and fashioned—again, with His own hands—the first woman.
In their perfect condition, God communicated often and directly with our first parents. But sin placed a barrier between God and His creatures. The rest of the biblical record is the story of God trying to remain a real, vibrant presence in the experience of His people. This was often, but not always, accomplished by some miraculous or supernatural manifestations that revealed His power and glory.
In the Old Testament God commanded Moses: “Have them [the children of Israel] make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Ex. 25:8). Day and night during their wilderness sojourn the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day was a constant reminder of God’s presence. In the Most Holy Place of the earthly sanctuary was the Shekinah, the visible representation of God’s glory.
But by the time of Christ the Temple services had devolved into meaningless, practically insignificant rituals and traditions. So Jesus, God’s own Son, became “enfleshed,” that is, incarnated, to demonstrate God’s glory. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” is how John put it. “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Eugene Peterson paraphrases this verse with these words: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes” (Message).
1518 page31In first-century Jerusalem it wasn’t the Temple where the glory of God resided; it was revealed in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. God said as much when the Temple veil that separated the holy from the Most Holy Place was torn in two at Christ’s death. It was as if God said, “Don’t look for My glory here. My glory will never again reside in an earthly building.”
But if God’s glory isn’t revealed in a building, and Jesus is now in heaven, where should we look for it?
Before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to His Father about His disciples: “I have given them the glory that you gave me,” He said, “that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:22). God’s glory is now no longer confined to one particular geographic location; the glory of God is revealed wherever the Holy Spirit lives in the lives of His disciples.
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” asked Paul (1 Cor. 3:16).
And Peter wrote: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Now, more than ever, God’s glory is reflected in the lives of those who are His followers.
Just as God created the first man and woman with His own hands and transformed inanimate matter into living beings, God today wants to transform us with His touch and bring glory to His name. God’s glory isn’t revealed in a building, whether it’s in Silver Spring, Collegedale, Walla Walla, or Berrien Springs. His glory is revealed by those who pattern their lives after the example of Jesus, who perfectly demonstrated God’s character of love, justice, compassion, and acceptance. “By the winsomeness of a Christlike personality and the compassion of Christlike deeds Christians are to reveal God to the world as Jesus did” (The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 562).
Are you ready for your transformation?
*Except where otherwise noted, Bible quotations are taken from the New International Version.
Texts credited to Message are from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
Stephen Chavez is managing editor of the Adventist Review. In his local church he serves as an elder and lay chair of the Administrative Board.