Did you know the Apostle Paul once compared Christian freedom to living without a mask veiling our face? Of course, he wasn’t discussing safe precautions during a pandemic. Paul was talking about the radical transition from Moses and the Law to Jesus and the Gospel.
Moses had asked to see the glory of the LORD (Exodus 33:18). The LORD responded that no one could look upon Him and live. Instead, Moses stood in the cleft of a rock and saw the reflection of the Lord’s backside while He passed Moses by. Later on, we learn Moses would meet with the Lord in the Tent of Meeting with an unveiled face, next deliver the word of the LORD to the Israelites with a shining face, and finally veil his face until his next meeting with the LORD (Exodus 34:34-35).
Now, Paul is telling the Corinthian church that each of us bears the image of the Messiah, Jesus. We, with unveiled faces, reflect the glory of Jesus to one another as we live in the Gospel and encourage each other in Christ. Not only Moses or a modern-day minister, but every Christian reflects the glory of the Lord Jesus.
This is our own transfiguration – being made into the likeness of Christ the crucified and risen one. The glory of a crucified Lord is such that when we, like Paul, face hardship, we do not have to cover up in shame. We have the Spirit of freedom. We can speak with boldness and honesty. We can lock eyes. We can betray the first smirks of joyous laughter. We can see the eyes welling with tears. In this we find not only that we are brothers and sisters in Christ; we find that Christ is with us in our mutual comfort and joy.
The Spirit of freedom brings much more than spontaneity, which is often how we think of the Spirit’s presence and power. Deeper than mere spontaneity, the Spirit frees us from the need to pretend (wear a mask) and frees us for living the Gospel. This is a glory unlike the spectacle the world desires. This is the glory of the LORD who unveiled his heart to us on a cross the world considered to be foolish and a stumbling block (1 Corinthians 1:23). We are beginning to see more of each other’s faces these days. Paul would remind us that there is far more going on than the return of our smiles. We are once more reflecting the glorious love of God who would “lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
Shalom, Pr. Tom