To believe in Jesus' God, the God of unconditional accessibility and even-handed compassion, to believe in an anarchic mercy that ignores order, rank and merit, is to accept that our projects and patterns are the mark of failure, of illusion, of the infantile belief that we can dictate truth and reality. Because it is menacing and painful to be confronted with the knowledge that our constructions of controlled sense are liable to be empty self-serving, we readily turn to violence against the bearers of such knowledge: in Johannine terms, we have decided we want to stay blind when the light is there before us, claiming we can see perfectly well (John 8:41). And the New Testament (especially the fourth gospel) suggests that only when such naked collision of interest occurs can the un-compromising reality of God over against our patterns of "religious control" become dear. God provokes crisis to destroy our self-deceiving reliance on "Law;" our dependence on what we as individuals can make and sustain, or what we as societies can administer for our own unchallenged interest. Self-dependence is revealed as a mechanism of self-de-struction; to cling to it in the face of God's invitation to trust is a thinly veiled self hatred.p. 18
The Spirit's work is to make the believer like Christ, and being like Christ means living through certain kinds of human experience--not once, but daily. The second letter to the Corinthians is Paul's most passionate meditation on this. Here he speaks of the daily affliction, the daily rejection, the daily dying by which the Spirit works, transforming us "from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18). The veil of the law is removed, illusion is stripped away, but only slowly does this penetrate every area of human living. And it penetrates by means of the pervasive and inexorable experience of failure, by the "wasting away" (2 Cor. 4:16) of the instincts that look for clarity, ease and effectiveness and the acceptance of the hiddenness of God's working.p.19
Here is the transfiguration from glory to glory, realized daily in the absurd, the biter, even the comical; this is, surprisingly, what it is to live in the Messsianic age and to be conformed to the pattern of the Messiah. When the future breaks into the present order, it shows itself in Paul's "folly" for Christ, in the stupid incongruities of this curious life in two worlds.