Solar eclipses are fascinating! The moon is at just the right place that it can completely cover the body of the sun while keeping the sun’s corona visible. Every time we approach a solar eclipse, we hear the warning: Do not look into the sun, you will go blind! What we know intuitively when the sun is fully exposed, we need to be reminded of when it is not: it is powerful! So powerful that I cannot look at it for longer than a moment without being blinded for minutes. So bright that I cannot hope to make out any detail in the sun by looking at it. The same is true for some passages of Scripture: They shine so brightly that it seems like I will burn out my eyes before I am able to see them in all their splendor.
Most times, maybe not unsurprisingly, the passages are related to God’s glory. For example, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14:
“But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What is the glory of Christ? I guess it is majestic and awesome and brilliant, and so far I am still tracking. But what does it mean to obtain it? What does that look like? I can only wonder.
Let’s consider Ephesians 1:3-14:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
I understand that I am redeemed. I am His. Basic Christianity, right? But this redemption is “according to the riches of his grace lavished upon us”, “making known to us the mystery of his will in all wisdom and insight.” Maybe my view of redemption is just a tad too low when compared to this description here.
Or 1 Peter 1:3-9:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
This passage contains so many rich words—glory, honor, imperishable, unfading, living hope, inexpressible joy filled with glory—I struggle to understand them. How does one express “inexpressible joy”, let alone such a joy that is also filled with glory? When I fail to understand the words attempting to express these inexpressible truths, what hope do I have to understand the concepts behind them? Maybe this is what Paul means when he writes to the Corinthians that “now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Dimly indeed.
But the situation is not discouraging! On the contrary, there is so much still to discover about God and his work that I could not accomplish it if given many lifetimes. He is inexhaustible! His Spirit knows the mind of God and indwells believers, so until that final day when all will make sense, I can trust Him to transform my mind into His glorious image. Hallelujah!