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. 2 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’ (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’ (4.16) of the instincts which look for clarity, ease and effectiveness and the acceptance of the hiddenness of God’s working..
Here is the transfiguration from glory to glory, realized daily in the absurd, the bitter, even the comical; this is, surprisingly, what it is to live in the Messianic age and 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.