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. 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.
Jesus, the eternal and divine Image of God, came to restore the image of God in us. We were meant to be the image of the Image. 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.
So when Paul says that we are being transformed into the same image, he’s saying that we are called to live out of the imago dei right now. Today, not just some day. Where we live presently, not just in Heaven. The same image loves like Christ in our families, and workplaces, and communities. The same image loves even our enemies. The same image chooses real holiness over happiness. The same image is caring, kind, gentle, and merciful with others.
Does this sound impossible? Without God’s great grace it would be. By our own power it fails before it begins. But remember, this transformation into Christ-likeness happens through beholding, not striving. Faith not works. From one degree of glory to another, not all at once.
Christian, our transformation into the image of Christ is slow and steady. Not a burst. Not a single moment in time that you might somehow miss. Why? Because it’s by faith. By grace God has unveiled your face. And by faith you now behold the glory of Christ and his cross. God’s work of grace is complete and immediate, ours is progressive and slow. 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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