It’s Transfiguration Sunday, and the Mark 9 text sent my mind down a surprising trail this year.

Many of us who grew up in the Wesleyan Holiness tradition believed that the Holy Spirit would change us completely in “a second definite work of grace,”  instantaneously purifying us and clothing us with the divine nature like Christ himself. A kind of transfiguration! And why not? The Holy Spirit is capable of doing something that miraculous, right?

But actual human experience teaches us otherwise.

God cleanses us, yes. Clothes us with his own divine nature–yes. But he does it in a lifelong process of spiritual transformation that the apostle Paul describes this way:

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18).

“Being transformed into his likeness” is no less miraculous than the Transfiguration, but the speed of our change compares to Christ’s like a dimmer bulb to a carbon-arc Klieg.