Someone wrote me an email this week full of concern. It seems a thread of theology has changed my life and can’t keep itself from weaving into the words on this page. They named it as they saw it. They quoted my lines and captioned them with a man’s name and then they slapped an –ist on the end of his name and called me that too.
It doesn’t matter that I haven’t read a stitch of his doctrine, couldn’t name his tenets of faith if I tried—the damage was done and they might as well have put a scarlet letter on me in their own mind.
Don’t worry, I responded nicely and graciously and I think we’re still friends, though I told him if my blog offends him so much, he probably shouldn’t associate with it, otherwise other people may begin to call him one of these theological-disciples as well. You are what you eat and all that, you know? At least I am, it seems.
If transformation is the changing of one thing to another, then theology, for me, has been nothing but transformative. I told a friend once that if our theologies couldn’t be subject to change then what in life could be? And I stand by that.
I know more than anything that I want the Word and Spirit alone to be that which changes my theology, but I am no fool because it is Life that has the final word.
I cannot tease my concept or study of God apart from what He has done in and through and because and in spite of me. I am a living, breathing theology. I am like paintings by art students “A Study of Light” or “A Study in Contrasts.” I am a study of God. That is not to say that I am God, not at all, but that I perceive God and I present Him, though He doesn’t need me to any more than light itself needs permission to flood a room through a sliver of space. It exists and so it lights. God exists and so has chosen us as His vessels.
What I am saying is that what we think about when we think about God is and should be transformative, it should change us today and it should change us tomorrow. But it also should be transformative itself.
Paul called it going from glory to glory and I think sometimes we want to believe that all those changes happen in one swoop, like Paul himself, on the road to Damascus. But more and more I am convinced that there is something to be said for the progressive nature of that sentence: We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
That, friends, is a comfort to me.
It is a warm, warm, warm blanket to me.
I am beholding.
I am being transformed.
I am going from one degree of glory.
I am going to another degree of glory.
I am a study of God, being transformed into the same image.
The Same Image.
It wasn’t lost on those Corinthians—that word Image. They knew Image. The knew Imago. They were an idol-worshiping, image-making people. But they knew Whose Image they were transforming into and it wasn’t Paul or another Apostle; and for us it’s not a dead theologian or a living one.
The truth is that the gospel reaches deep, deep, deep inside of us, pulls out the residue of us, the filthy rags of righteousness, and the dregs of our past, and redeems it for a degree of glory. And then tomorrow, the gospel reaches back into us, pulls out some more, and redeems it for another degree of glory. And this happens until breath is gone and Life begins for real.
This is a study of God.
This is how God works, not man, not my blog, not my study of the Bible, not the sermons I listen to each week or the sermons you’re listening to right now. This is how God alone works in our lives.
So, my email-friend, I hope you’re not reading this. I really hope you’re not.
I hope you’re not because I don’t want my theology to trip you up. If it illuminates God to you, then read on. But if it steals one iota of joy from you in the reading, step away, close your browser, and live! Live life forward in the fullness of what God is revealing to you today!
But prepare for your theology to change and to change you in the process.
From one degree of glory to another.