The likeness of Christ
…we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory…
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)
The heart of the Christian walk is being transformed into the likeness of Christ, becoming more like him. This is a really positive goal to have, and yet it is hugely ambitious. The extent of this transformation is shown by the Apostle Paul in his command to ‘offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ (Romans 12:1-2). J.B. Philips translated this as ‘Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within.’ This points to conformity to God’s will in our minds, as God works in us to transform, to renew, to remould us from within.
Allowing God to develop our minds not only honours him, but also enables us to be able to discern the Lord’s will, as we are told in Romans 12:2: ‘Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’
Of course, being transformed into the likeness of Christ involves not only the way we think but the way we speak and act: ‘…whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’ (Colossians 3:17 emphasis mine). This is going to involve discipleship – three important aspects of which are seen in Luke 9:23: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
To be Christ’s disciples we have to deny ourselves – this means saying ‘no’ to our own desire’s, and ‘yes’ to God’s will. Positively it means seeking God’s will for our lives. Then discipleship means to take up our cross each and every day – to voluntarily accept and submit to the will of God. And the third point is that we have to follow Jesus, to learn from him, and to live a life that models his.
To be transformed into the image and likeness of Christ is a work of God within us, and our submission to his transforming power that enables us, so we do not conform to this world. Can we be open to God’s Spirit so he can powerfully transform us from the inside out? Can we be passionately diligent in being discipled by Christ?
The Christian calling is to become more like Christ as he lives in and through us. This is the perfect will of God for each one of us.
ther, we place our lives before you as a living sacrifice. Help us to yield to you as you change us and mould us into the likeness of your Son. Amen.
Study by Barry Robinson
About the writer:
Barry Robinson is a minister in Grace Communion International and Regional Pastor for Southern England.
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