Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Image of Christ

Over the last couple of years, God has been directing me in odd directions. Strange concepts fill my dreams at night; they wake me up and send me to my laptop to write what I am trying to decipher. Writing has become somewhat of a communication with God for me, because as my thoughts pour into word, He deepens my insight into who He is. And these insights cause me to reflect on who I am; or who I am supposed to be.

Lately, God has specifically been directing my thoughts and prayers to what it really means to be transformed into His image. And through prayer, I meditate on the imperfections in my life. I began asking God to change those things which are against His will or opposite of what He created me to be. But rather than hearing, “Well, Jake I need you to do this, that and the other thing. Be this way. Be that way.” I began to simply hear, “Be transformed into the image of my Son.” And that’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. I began to pursue this and it caused me to contemplate what this really means in my life. To be transformed into the image of Christ.

The word Sanctification, is just a big word for the continuous process of making ourselves holy, or setting ourselves apart. Distinguishing ourselves as a follower of Christ and dedicating our efforts to be more like Him. As we grow in Christ, we are continuously being transformed into His likeness. Becoming more and more like Him. It’s a process that we live our lives by, that begins with salvation and carries on until we are finally glorified; which is just the end result, or reaching the finish line after this life. In many ways, this process is a restoration back to what was intended in the first place, before the fall of man. And to find out more of what the image of Christ is, I actually found myself going back to the book of Genesis, and looking at what man was created for in the first place.

Genesis 1:26 says, “Let us make man in our image AND likeness”, and in the next verse (27), God goes on to say “in the IMAGE of God He made him.” For some reason, He is silent on “likeness”. Why is this? Well, what I think is going on here is a description of the progression of creation. See, in the first creation, man received the honor and privilege of being made in God's image, but the likeness of God is something that is ongoing, and finally completed when we leave this world. That’s what sanctification is all about.

I see myself living this out in a very practical way; by following the example of Christ. Imitating God, so to speak. And that draws into the even deeper concept of living our lives as Christians and realizing our identity as children of God. The Bible talks about followers of Christ being "transformed". Most significantly, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

As we become more like Christ, a restoration begins to take place in creation. We begin to be transformed back to what we were originally created to be in the first place. We see this in Colossians 3:10, where Paul talks about putting on the “new self” “which is being renewed in the knowledge in the image of its Creator.” And Ephesians 4:22-24, where Paul says that we are “made new” and to “put on the new self” “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

OK. This all sounds well and good, but I began to ask myself, "Do I really believe that this is true? And if I do, why do I not live as a “new creation” on a regular basis. Why do I walk out of the door on Sunday mornings, and live as the “old creation” when I get home?" If I am in fact, a “new creation”, then my life needs to emmulate a life that is lived in constant awareness of this basic principle. Am I conscious of this every waking moment? Am I transformed even to the point of how I physically see the world? Am I looking at life through the eyes of Christ, or am I looking through the eyes of who I once was?

As we find ourselves being transformed in Christ's image, it’s almost as if we are putting on "Christ" glasses that distort all that we see, but in a way that brings clarity, not a blurred reality. You see, when we refuse to allow ourselves to be transformed, we are essentially giving our will over to sin, and that is the exact antithesis of the Christ's image. And this is the essence of the fall of man, and the beginning of man's skewed and distorted image. We lost the image of God that He intended us to have.

In the early days of Christianity, followers of Christ were called Christians as a derogatory term. It meant “little Christ”. I can imagine the Greek philosophers calling out, “Hey look! There's another one of those “little Christs”. But when you think about it, what a great derogatory term. If only I could be called a "little Christ" more often! But could I be accused of that on a daily basis? Am I walking with God in such a way, that I am intertwined with Christ’s image and it spews over into my life? Am I a "little Christ"?


MS Quixote said...

I often worry there's not enough evidence to convict me of being a "little Christ". It seems to be on your mind as well, my friend.

shemaromans said...

That makes three of us...