Movie About a Christian

Read: Luke 9:18–50

One of the reasons I and appreciate the concept of the “church year” is that we are often confronted by the hard passages, especially those that often make no sense to our post-enlightenment (i.e., science- and data-driven) minds. This is, as you probably inferred, one of those days.

Today is Transfiguration Sunday. It is this strange day that we “witness” a strange experience that defies our everyday experience.

Luke’s “bookends” of the Transfiguration are: before, Peter’s declaration of as Messiah, ’s subsequent command to be silent, and ’ prophesy of his suffering road, and his prophesy of for and by those that follow him; after, a and ’ rhetorical question of the unbelieving of the Jews (and, honestly, most of humanity). With what most of us believe about ( has a plan) and the (the help us interpret the ), these seemingly unrelated events before and after the Transfiguration should affect how we view the Transfiguration.

If we view the Transfiguration and its bookends as a “movie” of the Christian life, it disturbingly makes sense. “Who do YOU say I am,” asks. Peter responds, “the Messiah.” Sounds like a person accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior (salvation).

then says, “deny yourself. Daily yourself. The world will demand you deny me and be ashamed of me.” One of the first struggles of a new believer (and long-time believers, too) is the realization that accepting as Lord and Savior is only the beginning. Life-giving hardship is the Christian life.

The Transfiguration is (in the context of our “movie”), then, like the Holiness Movement concept of the Second Work of Grace (i.e., Entire Sanctification in Church of the Nazarene verbiage). We are “transfigured”—not by our will (other than a will to self- and submission to the will of )—by the will and work of to be “transfigured” into the likeness of our , and particularly in the likeness of Christ.

In A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, John Wesley (who “codified” the conception of Entire Sanctification) noted, we are to rarely, if ever, to of our experience of this “transfiguration”. This is similar to the actions of Peter, James, and John who kept silent about their experience. They shared it later, at the right time and to the right people, to reinforce the place of Christ in their experience of and with .

After this life-changing experience, then we come back to the real world (coming down the mountain) and face demands for miracles, s, along with the unbelief of the world, and often even our own disbelief at the miracles of . This disbelief is often not merely about “miracles”, but our trans by that we didn’t “earn”. We could even go so far as to say that the “unbelieving” performers of miracles (Luke 9:49–50) are like our scientists and doctors who perform “miracles” that could not possibly be imagined in the days of .

We also have the sad, but real, argument between those who claim to follow about who is better (Luke 9:46–48). Those arguments can follow theological lines, church lines (ecclesiology), spiritual lines (), political lines, gifting lines, and so on. This is the object lesson for denominations (even the earliest split resulting in Orthodox and Roman Catholic, long before Protestants), church splits, and church departures.

When we read the and find passages that we feel conflict with other , or our experiences and understandings, perhaps it is times like that when we can best view ourselves through the lens of .

May who Transfigures us poor and needy people into those that glow and reflect the glorious and light of Christ. Amen.

By Pastor Ian

Ian is an ordained Elder in The Church of the Nazarene, and is currently serving as the Online Campus Pastor at Generations Community Church in Marysville, WA, USA.

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