In September, I embraced the inevitable. Summer was ending—the light narrowing and slanting toward autumn. Each year we New Englanders welcome the change while bracing for another winter. We look forward to the first nip of frost, the crunch of a freshly picked apple, the sweet aroma of wood smoke curling upward into the chilling air. Slowly the colors creep into the leaves—flaming crimson, luminous yellow, soft mauve—nature’s dazzling mosaic. We are enchanted by their beauty. Yet we are staring death in the face. Death in technicolor, but death nonetheless. These blazing colors will fade and float helplessly to the ground, soon to lie silent under the coming snow. Inevitably, winter comes.
Winter and Autumn: The Law
We might find it strange that the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 refers to the Law as “fading glory.” But the Law of Moses is somewhat like autumn. It is a thing of great beauty. Taken in its totality, it describes a perfect human life, a perfect human being. We would stand in awe of the person who could keep all 633 commandments, and we would love that person. But as Paul reminds us elsewhere, we are powerless to keep the Law (Romans 7). Why is this? It is because God is holy, and we are not. In fact, Paul teaches that the Law was given to prove to us our need of a Savior. Just like autumn, the fading glory of the Law brought death.
Spring and Summer: The New Covenant
But spring will come again. The beauty of autumn is far surpassed by the spine-tingling joy we feel at the sight of the first crocus, bravely pushing its way up through the dark soil into the light of day. Cold rain, then warmer rains, pour down to wake the earth. The April sun caresses our shoulders once again. Each evening, the light lingers few moments longer as the earth leans further toward the sun. Now here is life-giving glory, the glory of the coming summer.
So it is with God’s new covenant in Christ. Jesus is that perfect man, the only one who kept the Law entirely—for us. For we could never live up to its demands. Just as the glory of spring surpasses autumn’s glory, so the glory of the gospel surpasses that of the Law. We can let go of our self-improvement programs. We rely on the power of the completed work Jesus did on the cross. Here is an invitation to summer, to new life, freedom, and transformation.
Our Hope of Glory
How does this happen to us as believers? This is the mystery hidden for so many ages—“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The Holy Spirit shows us what Jesus is like and then changes us more and more into his likeness. It happens in countless ways, but it does happen. We spend time in his presence. We talk with him and his people. The next step of our transformation might be triggered by a Scripture, a song, a sermon, a friend, or a still small voice in our hearts. The Holy Spirit does what we could never do through our own effort, and writes the Law on our hearts (Hebrews 10:16). And we change, we grow, we become more like our Savior—new life in technicolor abundance beyond all we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20–21). This is the good news of the gospel.
So how do we approach Scripture? Do we look at Bible reading only as a religious obligation, a necessary part of our daily discipline as believers? Or do we open the Bible expecting a drink of the water of life? For within its pages is a connection to the source of our transformation, the Living Word. As we encounter Christ there, we are being changed “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18) to become more like him.
There is coming a day when our transformation will be complete, when Spring comes to stay forever, when we see him face to face (1 John 3:2). Meanwhile, we can embrace Scripture with delight and anticipation. You just never know what the Holy Spirit will do when you open your Bible.
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