“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” —2 Corinthians 4:6
The face of Christ has transforming power. Those who look upon it in love, and intently — are changed by it into its own beauty. This teaching is brought out very clearly in the New Testament. John tells us that when we shall see Jesus as He is, we shall become like Him (1 John 3:2-3).
The apostle Paul describes in a wonderful way, the transforming power of the face of Christ as we look upon it: “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.” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The glory of the Lord is the glory which shines in the face of Jesus Christ. We cannot see that glory with our eyes, for Christ is in Heaven. But it is reflected for us on the pages of the gospel. As we ponder him in these pages intently, we look upon his glory.
The effect of this continual beholding, is the transformation of our lives into Christ’s image. That is, as we consider Christ, as we read the story of his life, think of him, meditate on the beauty of his character, look into his face with love and adoration — the brightness of that face prints itself upon our faces, and we are transformed into his image. This transformation is not wrought suddenly, instantaneously, but gradually — “with ever-increasing glory.”
Life is a school. The qualities of Christian character are studies set for us. No one learns a musical instrument in one lesson. No one can become an accomplished artist in a day. Just so, no one can get the full beauty of Christ into his life in one brief year. We have it here in Paul’s words — “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” — that is, line by line, little by little.
Fellowship with Christ is the essential thing in cultivating godly character. Not only is he our teacher — it is not enough that he shall set the lessons for us, but he brings down the divine life and imparts it to us. John lay upon the master’s bosom, and in this close friendship, he grew into the master’s likeness. It is thus that we all must live, if we would get the beauty of Christ upon our lives. We never shall grow like him, if we stay habitually far away from Him.
If a Christian lives distant from Christ, he soon grows earthly and loses the spiritual loveliness out of his life. But if he abides near his master, in adoring love, in close companionship — then the glory of Christ enters his life and transforms him. Looking at Christ, intently, with a devout, reverent heart, beholding him not merely in a brief glance now and then, but continuously — the brightness of that blessed face prints itself upon his life.
Those who look intently at the face of Christ, entering into the spirit of his life, walking in daily fellowship with him, bearing his cross, loving him and doing his will — take his image upon their own lives, grow like him, until neighbors and friends begin to see the resemblance and say, “Why, they are like Jesus Christ!”.