I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. John 16:12
Do we imagine that this limitation of not being able to bear all the truth, and so our Lord not imparting to us what we are not yet able to understand, only affected the twelve disciples and not us today? In fact, we are now, and always will be, unable to understand some, but not all, of what God wishes to reveal. The “unknowns” I wrote about last week ought to be expected. Always. Eternally. The journey of our finite selves toward the infinite will be, well, infinite.
The grace of revelation, the love in which God unveils himself to us, shows us our true selves as well his divine nature, and opens to us the depth and glory of his love in all its implications for every aspect of our lives. The process is simply never finished. God always has more light, the intense radiance of his own goodness, to shine forth. While no one can look on God and live (Exodus 33:20), this is not because God will strike us down for daring to look at him, though the ancients may have feared such a reprisal. Rather, we are incapable of encountering the unrefracted divine essence and remaining who we are. We know that the pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8), but all who see God die. Therefore, a dying will be necessary as we encounter God, and that dying will be to ourselves, the life we have so carefully made for ourselves. The dying may happen little by little instead of all at once, but nonetheless, we know what to expect.
The ultimate promise is for us to encounter God face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12). As this happens we cannot continue to live as we have. Moses was said to have had this type of interaction with God (Exodus 33:11), which transfigured him with the light of God’s presence so profoundly that the Israelites were afraid of his appearance when he descended from the mountain.
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 3:18
Paul compares our own spiritual journey to Moses’ ascent to God on Mount Sinai. We will be increasingly transformed by the glory of God shining on us when with “unveiled” faces we behold God. This being glorified by his presence entails a commensurate dying. The unveiling is the revelation that God gives, which makes possible further change as we “look upon” God. Quite clearly, this is a lengthy process. All God’s revelation to us is partial and a prelude to more ,which will be granted when the time is right.
Spiritually, we remain in a place of utter dependance, that is, within the necessity of faith. Never do we master anything, nor can we have the confidence to smugly conclude, “we have arrived”. The nature of our spiritual remaking requires both faith and humility to even begin, and these virtues are necessary eternally for our lives with God, in Christ, as filled with the Spirit.