2 Corinthians 3:18. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Here’s where we’ve been so far in our “Change” mini-series: By God’s grace we are changed and can change because the veil has been removed from our hard hearts. Now we can behold (love and worship) the glory (goodness, significance) of the Lord (the cross and everything that points to it, which is everything). This transforms (changes from the inside out) us.
Transforms us into what?
The same image as the Lord Jesus.
The word image should take our minds back to Genesis 1. We were made in the image of God. Imaging God is your life’s purpose. We are each meant to be the physical manifestation of the invisible, immaterial God.
But as you know, we have all been very bad at this assignment. And so Jesus, in his great kindness, has done it for us. He took on flesh in order to be the human Imago Dei that we could never be.
Colossians 1:15. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
You see Jesus didn’t come to turn you into a god. He came to turn you back into a human.
And so here is a humbling thought, that our Savior, who IS God, lowered himself to become the image of God. He did this when he took on the corruption of human flesh and became a mortal. He was always God. But he also lived as the image of God for 30+ years, suffered, died a less than human death, and then was returned to glory. He retains his role as the ultimate human image bearer of God, having never relinquished his deity. His humanity goes on. His humility goes on. He’s both the Reality and the Reflection at the same time.
Christ did all of this for love. Love for the Trinity and love for us. He did it to rescue us from ourselves by filling us with love, and holiness, and freedom. He did it so that God could dwell with humanity. Walk with them and talk with them like he did in the Garden. He did this to restore the Trinity’s relationship with us. Something God could never have done without Christ as the bridge. Now God can truly experience his creation and we can experience him. Our spirits are joined in cosmic matrimony. The two (us and God through Jesus) have become “one flesh.” He also did it for the Trinity’s relationship with each other, so that they can glorify each other through their displays of grace shown to us through our union with Christ.
To God be the glory great things he has done!
What does this mean for us right now? To be the image of Christ is to look like Christ on the earth. Our union with Christ secures Christ’s life in us. This allows us to image Christ and God. When Paul says that we are being transformed into the same image, he doesn’t want us to just stay in the clouds. He wants us to bring it to earth – literally. We are called to live out of the imago dei.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: Jesus was the physical manifestation of God on Earth, not just because he was God, but because he was human. Every human is called to manifest God, to carry his glory and goodness around with us. To impact the earth and share intimacy with others in loving, sacrificial relationships. In other words, to look, sound, and live like Jesus. But only those who by faith receive the life of Christ, can by grace accomplish this purpose for humanity.
“To live is Christ” means that by his indwelling Spirit, every believer shares the same image of Jesus and thus the image of God. As the New Creation we are the new humanity, empowered to change the world around us with the love of Christ.
Do you see yourself as the image of God? The image of Christ? Does your life look like Jesus? How does your union with Christ free you from any guilt or pride that may be preventing this?