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.
Why did God save us? What is the goal or purpose of our salvation? Is it simply so that we can skip Hell and go to Heaven instead? Some might say so.
But the Apostle Paul would say that we are saved so that we might be transformed into the same image as Jesus. Now, as soon as we hear the word image, our minds should race back to Genesis 1. Mankind was created in the image and likeness of God (see day 2). We were created to represent and reflect the invisible God in the world through worship, love, and service. But as you know, we have all failed at this assignment, and the image of God in us is forever tainted by our indwelling sin.
In Christ the divine became human. The Creator became the creation. The deity became the imago dei (image of God). You see, Jesus didn’t come to earth to turn us into gods. He came to earth to turn us back into humans. Image bearing, worshiping, loving, serving, humans.
Why? For the glory of God and his love – the Trinity’s love for one another and the Trinity’s love for us. And for the glory that is shared by the Trinity as God’s great love is poured out on us in Christ.
But let’s not keep this in the clouds. When Paul says that we are being transformed into the same image, he’s saying that he wants us to bring heaven to earth – literally. We are called to live out of the imago dei right now, today, where we live. To love like Christ in our families, and workplaces, and communities. To love even our enemies. To choose real practical holiness today as an act of that same love. To care, and be kind, and gentle with others. To be Jesus’s mercy to others.
I know that sound daunting, but don’t panic. Remember there’s grace. This transformation into Christ-likeness happens by the grace of beholding, not striving. And this transformation into Christ likeness happens from one degree of glory to another. It is slow and steady. Not a burst. Not a single moment in time that you might somehow miss. God is patient, and God works slowly. Thank you God.
But why does our transformation into the image of Christ have to be progressive and slow? Because it’s by faith. Yes, it’s by grace. Yes, it’s all of God. He has already changed you and unveiled your face. But God still wants our spiritual growth to be a partnership with him by faith, by beholding.
Why? Because faith is what allows us to maintain our humanity. Our freedom. Our love. God never forces us to grow, and love, and be holy. Yes, we have a new heart and a new desire. Yes, we have a new motivation for living and loving. Yes, we have abounding grace poured into us. Yes, we are in Christ. But we also have a choice. Our faith, added to God’s grace, is what lets us image God. And since God has invited us into this relationship of interdependence, it’s going to take time. It’s going to be slow. It’s going to be from one degree of glory to another.
By the way, this was also true of Jesus, the very one we are imaging. Jesus was empowered by the grace of God, but just like us, he also had to have faith. He too had to behold the glory of the Lord in order to progress in his sanctification. Like every human, he had to grow and mature by trusting. He had to move from glory to glory. His ultimate glory being realized through his obedience on the cross.
Hebrews 2:10. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
“To live is Christ” means present and complete transformation into the image of God because we are in Christ. And because Christ is in us, it means we are slowly and progressively being changed from one degree of Christ’s glory to the next by grace through faith and into his same self-sacrificing love.
Does your life look like Jesus? Why or why not?
You in Christ
How does knowing that you are in Christ encourage you to trust that you are being transformed into Christ’s likeness today?
Christ in you
Where can you image Jesus’ love and kindness today?
Playlist: Imaging Christ.
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