How Do We Become Like Jesus?
Over the course of their lives, do people really change that much? If they don’t change in drastic, visible ways, how much is this change worth? I’m not a big fan of little moral victories. As the above may or may not communicate, the question of sanctification has been haunting my thoughts lately.
One conclusion I’ve come to is that on earth, the Christ-like transformation we experience is best considered a progression, a trajectory, than any kind of facsimile. In other words, we’re being gradually hewn into a rough likeness of Jesus, not a finished statuette. What matters is the direction in which the work is being taken.
This is immensely encouraging, since my life is about a third over, and my Christ-likeness, last time I checked, stands at roughly 6%. It’s not even NCAA hoops season, but if I was hoping to become precisely like Jesus in this life, I’d quit right now and head home for some TV.
This is why 1 John 3:2 is such good news: “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” The really sweeping instant of change is reserved for heaven.
I also like to think of people as keys. Old, clunky keys, at first, but keys which work, nonetheless. At the moment we believe in Christ, we enter this key-hood. Keys, of course, are meant to unlock something. The thing that we unlock, as God’s children, is the glory of God.
At first we reveal a mere glimmer, then more and more. Over the years, we unlock portals to wider prospects of Christ’s glory. But they are always mere doors—momentary glimpses, limited facets of an infinitely good God. And we are always mere keys, mere clues and signs, mere sparks of Christ’s all-consuming light.
But this will not always be the case. Consider:
“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” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The glory that we come to display has a transforming effect. In the end, our brief, fragmentary resemblance to Christ will be swept up into a consummate likeness. In an instant, the murky outlines of earthly sanctification will snap into vivid, mirror-image focus. We will not be God. But we will be, like Christ, humans who can do no wrong.
This is the grand finale that we have to tide us over, and it is best to take the long view. On the day we see Christ face to face, we will be instantaneously perfected. Every pain we took, every frustrated tear, each desperate prayer, will shine with retrospective light, and we will see, like Paul, that the sufferings of God’s children in the present times aren’t even worth comparing to the glory that lies ahead (Romans 8:18).
When the merely Christesque flames into perfect similitude, we will say, “It was all worth it,” and then laugh out loud at the immensity of the understatement.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
How Do We Become Like Jesus?