“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.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (ESV)
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are sanctified, meaning set apart for the glory of God. But it also means we enter a continual process of sanctification—moving one degree of glory to another.
The MacArthur Study Bible says it this way:
“As they gaze at the glory of the Lord, believers are continually being transformed into Christlikeness. The ultimate goal of the believer is to be like Christ, and by continually focusing on Him the Spirit transforms the believer more and more into His image. From one level of glory to another level of glory—from one level of manifesting Christ to another. This verse describes progressive sanctification. The more believers grow in their knowledge of Christ, the more He is revealed in their lives.”
This is how we grow into the image of Jesus Christ—by moving from one degree of glory to another.
In other words, the process of progressive sanctification doesn’t work like a tanning bed we can lie in to change our skin coloring from pasty white to sun-kissed bronze as if we had actually spent time in soaking in genuine sunshine.
If we want to take on the radiance of Jesus, being transformed in His image, we actually have to spend time in the Son light.
For the Christian, if being transformed into the image of Christ is our goal (and if it isn’t you might want to revisit what it actually means to be a Christian), then we get there one step at a time. Once I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my life became about a continual sanctification process. I know I am sanctified—set apart—from the moment I gave my life to the Lord. But to realize the fullness of that sanctification, I must nurture a thirst for more, continually seeking the next level of understanding, the next level of glory.
There is always another step.
God has been working on me lately about going deeper—or higher if you will—and the only way I can do that is to keep moving. I must keep going from one step to the next.
The Southern Steps of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem are also known as the Teaching Steps. It was here that the rabbi’s would teach and instruct crowds of people. Jesus surely would have taught here. Some scholars even believe this may have been to place His parents discovered Him teaching when He was a boy of twelve. Scholars also surmise this is the place where the church was born in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. This is where the crowd would have been, and that hour of the morning was a prayer time when people came to the Temple. The conditions were right for a mass movement of the Holy Spirit.
As I stood on these steps looking out over the ancient City of David and the steep climb from there to the Temple Mount, I could see that the bottom step was just as necessary and important as the one at the top.
One degree of glory to the next. Steps. And we need every step in its place in order to reach the destination.
Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us scrambling around like one of those maze puzzles on paper that challenge us to find our way out of.
God gifted me with a love of writing, expressing thoughts and ideas through the art of language. I am a writer. It is one of the ways I learn, explore, and go deeper in my own faith. And if I can share anything with you that encourages, informs, inspires, or enlightens you in a way that stirs your desire for more of God, then I have honored my gift and fulfilled my purpose. If what your read here causes you to take another step, then I am more than happy for you to take it even if it means you are moving beyond what I can offer until you no longer need the step I provide.
If my thoughts expressed here send you straight to God’s Word, awesome. If they make you curious to read others, glory hallelujah. And if they one day lead you to read the likes C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, and other esteemed theologians, and you have no time or need for me, then praise be to God.
That is the goal!
Take the next step.
Writing about things of God is something I feel passionate about, but I never want to lose sight of the fact that I am a rung in someone else’s ladder. And I never want to bemoan the fact that I am not, and may never be, the rung at the top. God has uniquely created and gifted me to fit in a specific place on this ladder. The purpose of my words is to boost my readers to the next level. The purpose of my life is not to be a platform for you to rest on. Don’t stop with what I’ve written but go next to the bible and read for yourself. Be inspired and encouraged to pick up a book that can increase your understanding of scripture, encourages you to be bold in your faith, reveals God’s glory from another angle, or guides you to fulfill the unique place you have been created and gifted for.
Then perhaps you will reach back and lift me higher as well.
If you’ve ever tried to climb a ladder with any of the rungs missing, you understand not only is it challenging and often risky, it also slows you down and sometimes stops you completely.
We are all meant to be and equipped to be a rung on someone else’s ladder. We may fulfill different levels with different people, but the reality is that if we aren’t in place, if we aren’t willing to be the next step, then there’s a rung missing in their ladder.
This can be a challenging concept for those in leadership and ministry, often by no real fault of their own. As humans, we like what is familiar and comfortable. We enjoy the rung we’re on. We’ve tested it and it’s safe, so why not stay here. To that I ask, if your teachers and leaders aren’t pushing you on beyond them, encouraging you and cheering you on as you grow in faith and understanding, why not?
Until we take the final step into eternity, there is always another step to take. No one this side of eternity has attained the final glory, because it is meant to be ours in Heaven. No one person or discipline or activity can give us everything we need.
What joy it is to be a step, lifting up another in their climb to Glory.
And what a blessing to know that the bottom step is never less important than the one at the top.