Connections 03.03.2019: Something About Her

Exodus 34:27-35

I was attending a conference for pastors. My wife accompanied me so she could visit some family members who lived near the host college, shop in the quaint college town, and (I think, hope, and believe) spend some time with me.

I invited two of the conference leaders to join Debra and me for dinner one night. One of them was an expert in Old Testament (my area of graduate studies), while the other was a specialist in worship and spiritual formation.

After dinner, Debra said, “They are both impressive. But there’s something about (she named the spirituality specialist).”

“I know what you mean,” I replied. “It’s like Jesus just shines out of her.”

“Yes,” Debra said. “It is.”

There was nothing outwardly impressive about her. In fact, some illnesses had left her quite frail. But something—we couldn’t quite put our finger on it—made it clear that she carried the Spirit of Christ.

Her face wasn’t shining so brightly that she had to wear a veil as Moses did, but she did reflect Jesus. Being with her was a remarkable experience, even though we were just eating seafood and chatting.

Moses’ face glowed because he spent time in God’s presence. I suspect that our conference leader’s life glowed because she spent meaningful time in Christ’s presence.

I’m not saying we should spend time in Christ’s presence so our life will glow. But I am saying that our life will glow if we spend time in Christ’s presence.

We do so by praying, by studying Scripture, by worshiping, and by being still. We do so by spending time with the oppressed and vulnerable.

In 2 Corinthians 3:18, which comes from the lectionary’s second reading for this Sunday (2 Cor 3:12–4:2), Paul writes, “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”

Being in Christ’s presence changes us. It changes our attitudes, our perspectives, our words, our actions, our bearing, and our being. We come to reflect him more and more. As a result, others will see Jesus in us.

When that happens, they might be inspired to spend more time with Jesus, which will lead to transformation in their lives, which will lead others to see Jesus in them, which might inspire them to spend more time with Jesus. And so on.

There was something about her. I don’t know if she knew it, but we saw it. I want there to be something about me. I want it to be a genuine reflection of my experience with Jesus.

Do you want there to be something about you?

Discussion

  1. How might our lives radiate the Spirit of Jesus? How might spending time in Jesus’ presence change our attitudes, our perspectives, our words, and our actions?
  2. Moses didn’t know that his face was shining, but others saw it. He did know that he had been in God’s presence. How do unawareness and awareness work together in Christian life and witness?
  3. Moses shared with the people the commandments God had given him on the  mountain. How can we share with others what God has given us?
  4. This Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday. The Gospel reading is Luke 9:28-36. How does our lesson text help us think about the transfiguration?

Reference Shelf

The radiance of Moses’ face expresses in dramatic physical form the unsurpassed and unsurpassable directness of the speaking of YHWH with Moses and, by implication, the unsurpassable authority of the Torah that YHWH communicates in that revelation. Hierarchy within the community in turn safeguards that authority. As in Exodus 24:2, 14, the verb “to approach” defines hierarchy (there, only Moses may “approach” YHWH), so now Aaron and all Israel are afraid “to approach” Moses with his still blazing countenance (v. 30). Only on Moses’ summons do first Aaron and the leaders of the community (the “elevated ones,” as in Exod 16:22; see Num 2:3-29) come back. Only thereafter may the whole company of Israel “approach” to hear for themselves through the mediator what YHWH has spoken. Moses conveys the authority of this once-for-all, unrepeatable revelation of the Decalogue, the nucleus of the Torah, by speaking to his people only this time with his face unveiled. Henceforth, when Moses addresses the people, he will wear a veil (the word occurs in BH only here) in order to shield them from immediacy of that exposure. But, when he enters again into the divine presence, he removes that veil. The vividness of Moses’ direct encounter with YHWH continues (limited only by the restriction on direct vision of the glory of YHWH in the P-edition of 33:18-22).

William Johnstone, Exodus 20–40, Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary (Macon GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2014) 418.

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

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