How to Look Like Jesus without Growing a Beard (2 Corinthians 3:18)

by Pastor Tim Thomas

We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. –2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB)

I don’t know about you, but I want people to look at me and see Jesus. I want them to see me and recognize the very presence of God, not because of who I am, but because of how I’ve been changed by God. This verse has the key to being transformed, and the way to be transformed is very different than most of us have been taught.

This chapter in Second Corinthians began talking about the glory that shone from Moses’s face and how with a better covenant we believers now have a greater glory than Moses had. And in this verse, it seems that the idea is picked up once again, this time suggesting that the way that glory is increased – and the way that we are transformed into the image of Christ – is through beholding the glory of the Lord.

Beholding means to gaze upon something or someone, and this passage talks about gazing upon the glory of the Lord. Recall that when Moses reflected the glory of the Lord, his face glowed. If glory was revealed from Moses’s face, it seems reasonable to think that the glory is revealed from the Lord’s face. This verse seems to be the New Testament version of Psalms 27:8, where we are invited here not just to seek God’s face but to gaze upon God’s face.

This verse seems to say that if we follow a strategy of regularly spending time in God’s presence, gazing upon his face, people will be able to see Christ in us as we are transformed by his glory. The passage talks about the transformation being from glory to glory, which implies a progressive transformation as we pursue his face. That is, the effect is cumulative, and the more times we behold Him, the more we are transformed.

Should we take this idea of gazing upon the face of God literally or metaphorically? I think most people take it metaphorically, but that might have a lot to do with the fact that not many people know how to engage their spiritual senses to interact with God. You “hear” God speak to you in your spirit. You can also “see” God in your spirit. We believers have the Holy Spirit within us, so he can help us develop these abilities. I find it easier to hear in the Spirit than to see in the Spirit, but as I thought about it recently, some of the most significant events in my life came about because I could see in the Spirit as well. If you are open to it, you can experiment with this. Ask God to help you!

P.S. Mark and Patti Virkler write about learning to see spiritually in their book “Dialog with God” if you are interested in learning about this in more detail.

This was first posted on the sister website,

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