But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And 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. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 3:16-4:2
Change is real for those who are in the Lord. The Christian life is about God giving us the supernatural resource of His Spirit to bring about change and growth. God is redeeming broken and sinful human beings who, in the Lord, need to embrace beliefs that God says are important. We are to adopt His values and priorities so these in turn will change our behaviors and habits. Only in the Lord do we have the freedom to now embrace this reality and only by the Spirit of God can we truly be conformed to the image of God’s Son.
While we cannot manufacture spiritual transformation by our own efforts, we are not to be passive spectators either. The deception about life is that we alone control our own success. The reality of the Christian life is while the Spirit of God is working to actively change us, He invites us to follow Him. I was listening to Brian Stacy on “The Three Enemies of Success.” The first was comfort zone. People are comfortable where they are and do not want to change. Eighty percent of the population will always find reasons not to change even if the change is positive or beneficial. The second is learned helplessness. People will convince themselves that they simply cannot do what needs to happen for change. Third, the path of least resistance. Many will always look for an easy way to achieve results. But nothing worthwhile can be achieved easily. If we adopt any of these “concepts” in our walk with Christ, we may find out the work of His Spirit to be far more difficult than we thought.
True change leads to serving God. Notice the reality of seeing the “glory of the Lord” (for Paul) is Paul serves God because of His mercy. One could make the argument that the evidence of “seeing the glory of the Lord” results in a person’s having a passion to serve the Lord. A lack of interest in serving Him indicates a problem with understanding the reality of the gospel and the freedom that God has given us. Freedom is never about me doing whatever I want but surrendering my life to serve God and His purpose.
True change means that I use my freedom to serve others. The larger narrative is about what God is doing in the world, not what kind of legacy we are leaving in the world. That being said, notice that this internal transformation in us leads to this transformative ministry to others. This is Paul’s outcome in chapter four. “Therefore, having this ministry of the gospel, by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” It is very hard to experience the transforming work of the Spirit without it resulting in a desperate urgency to help others discover the Lord.
True change means I live and serve with integrity. Both the way we serve, and the outcome of our service is to be filled with integrity. Paul renounces disgraceful and underhanded ways to serve. The end never justifies the means. We are not manipulating people into the kingdom; we are not deceiving them with false promises; we are not using bate and switch methods to get numbers. The heart of ministry is we live and serve because we believe in the power of the Spirit to change people, it is not in our methods or slick presentations that cause people to trust Christ.
In His grace,