And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18
What is the secret to becoming more and more like Christ? A story I read as a schoolboy is even helping me today better understand our growth into the likeness of Christ. The story is, “The Great Stone Face” by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The story begins with the little boy, Ernest, in a small New England village overlooked by a rock formation known as “The Great Stone Face.” Time and nature had sculpted rocks, which, when seen from a distance, looked like a man’s face. Many people credited the prosperity of the village to that stone face looking down kindly on them. There was even a prophecy that one day a child would be born in the area who would grow up to look like the stone face and be the noblest man of his time.
When Ernest’s mother told him about the prophecy, he clapped his hands excitedly, saying, “I hope that I shall live to see the great man!” From that moment, Ernest was enthralled with the prophecy, and spent hours just looking at “The Great Stone Face”. He dreamed of the day the great man would come to his village.
But Ernest’s childhood passed, then youth and middle age, and the great man had not come. But Ernest did not give up contemplating the image of the great stone face. Then one day, as Ernest stood below the great face, villagers looked at him with recognition and exclaimed: “He has come! He has come! The great man who looks like the stone face has come!”
What was the point of Hawthorne’s story? What was his life lesson? That we become like the focus of our love and attention.
That is a big part of what the apostle Paul is saying in today’s scripture; we become more and more like our Lord Jesus as we focus our love and attention on Him. Paul says that as “we contemplate the Lord’s glory” we are “transformed into his image.”
It is a fabulous Greek word Paul uses, translated as “transformed”; it is metamorphoo. It is the very word from which we get “metamorphosis”, describing the amazing process by which a caterpillar enters a cocoon and emerges a butterfly. The word metamorphoo denotes a change, a transformation beyond recognition and human ability to understand.
Today’s scripture is saying that our transformation into the very likeness of Christ is beyond understanding. It is the Lord’s doing, as our transformation comes “from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” Our part in growth into Christ-likeness is to keep our eyes on Jesus. Then, as we focus our love and attention on Him, the Holy Spirit does His part in transforming us.
Some important truths about the Christian life are seen in today’s scripture:
- The Christian life is transformation (metamorphoo) and not imitation.
- Transformation is accomplished by the Holy Spirit, (“comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”).
- Transformation is an ongoing process and not instantaneous (“ever-increasing glory”).
Without even knowing it, little Ernest grew up to look like the man of The Great Stone Face as he focused it. So you and I are growing into Christ-likeness as we focus our love and attention on Him!
A fellow traveler,
P. S. Water from Rock will not publish a Lent devotion this year but will later publish a forty-day spring devotional.