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2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

If we can’t appreciate the bigness of the pig, we can’t appreciate the Godness of God.” [1] Joel Salatin write’s this in The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs as he explains the word glory. He notes that glory “means the distinctiveness of something, the specificity and uniqueness.”[2] Throughout the rest of the book he talks about pigs being at peak pigness as them glorying in how God intended for them to be. Gary Vaynerchuk might be speaking of “glory” when he speaks of “Crushing it.” [3] Glory seems to be the center of this pericope. Moses used a veil to hide God’s glory. And Paul argues that this veil is still present when the Jewish readers approach the old covenant. They do not encounter God when God is most God. They only see God as through a veil. If we were to read this through Salatin’s pig metaphor, “they” only see pigs in pens. “They” do not see pigs “rooting in the soil, romping, looking for bugs, and cavorting” [4] “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” Though the Israelites could not see the “Godness of God” in Christ, God is entirely present in Christ. In Colossians 3:19 Paul puts it this way, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” Jesus is the fullness of God, and in Jesus we no longer see God through a veil. We see God as God. What is more we do not merely see God, we reflect God. “Paul trumps Moses even at the heigh of his spiritual powers: in Christ, all of us become images of a divine glory that, better than Moses’s never fades away.” [5] In this Trinitarian passage, Paul is revealing that God’s work in and through us is not merely covering us with Christ’s blood, nor it is merely paying the price, nor even providing a moral example. Paul is arguing that when we repent and turn to the Lord, we are being transformed into the image of God. Since this passage speaks to the ways in which we are being transformed, it would be a good Sunday to preach on sanctification as process. In this passage transformation is not instantaneous, but it is a something continuous. If you want to borrow from the Eastern Christians, you could even preach on deification. Perhaps it is a good week to reread some of Wesley’s sermons. I recommend, “Christian Perfection” “The One Thing Needful,”or “The New Birth.” [6]

Maybe this is a Sunday to ask what the glory of a human being is. What does being a human being really mean? In North American Christianity, we have become obsessed with Jesus’ death.[7] This often happens because we often start our atonement theories in Genesis 3. We would do well to remember that in Genesis 1 we have been created in the image and likeness of God. If Genesis 1 is taken seriously, then the glory of a human being, the distinctiveness, uniqueness, and specificity of human beings is that in of all created beings, we are the only ones made in God’s image and likeness. In Christ we are being transformed, but we are being transformed into our true Glory. We we becoming like Christ which is our true Humanity. This idea pushes against the folk theology of “I’m only human.” Such thinking is out of bounds for a Christian. Humanity is not truly human when it errs. This is especially true if we understand evil as a negation or as non-substantial. With a proper understanding of sin, the transformation of sanctification becomes a process of becoming a true human. Put differently, the glory of human beings is Godliness. Yet another path to take on this text is to read it in conjunction with the other transfiguration passages. Sergious Bulgakov speaks of the Transfiguration as:

An action of the Holy Spirit, reposing upon Christ, and in Him, transfiguring creation. This was a preliminary manifestation of ‘the new heaven and the new earth’… This was a manifestation of that whose arrival is connected only with Christ’s Resurrection and the coming universal resurrection. The Kingdom of God is prophesied not by word only but also by deed.” [8]

One other path forward for this passage is to speak of the church. Dr. Ellen Davis writes, “The Church is like a hall of mirrors in which a candle has been set, Jesus Christ; and all of us reflect that light, making the world bright with God.”[9] May your congregations “be fruitful and multiply” as they reflect God’s image and likeness in the world. [1] Joel Salatin, The Marvelous pigness of pigs, (New York, Faith Words, 2016), 20. [2] ibid, 19. [3] This is a phrase he uses frequently, he even titled a book “Crushing It” [4] Salatin, 21. [5] Ellen Davis, Preaching the luminous word, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2016), 39. [6] You could draw from many of Wesley’s sermons. For digital access to some, see the Wesley Center at NNU. [7] I almost wrote that we are obsessed with his crucifixion, but most modern (not merely contemporary, but modern in the philosophical sense) atonement theories do not adequately address the cross. In satisfaction and penal substitution models the crucifixion is ignored for the sake of the death. This is incredibly inappropriate considering that in 1 Cor. 15 Paul roots atonement in Christ’s resurrection. [8] Sergius Bulgakov, Churchly joy, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2008), 140. [9] Davis, 40.