Devotional Thought of the Day
1 Take me as your pattern, just as I take Christ for mine. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NJB)
27 God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NJB)
18 And all of us, with our unveiled faces like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory; this is the working of the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NJB)
Is our being made in the image and likeness of God something invisible, something confined, perhaps, to the soul? But if so, then it is not an image, for an image is, by its nature, something that can be seen. And, in fact, we can see the image—not in the momentary flash of photography, but in the demeanor that reveals a life: in the goodness of a mother, in the uprightness of a husband, in the fidelity of a friend in our time of trouble, in the patience of one who suffers, in the gentleness and maturity of one who prays. When we see these signs, we are seeing the image of God. (1)
Every once in a while you hear about Jesus image, maybe in a piece of toast, or a tortilla or pancake, or in some artifact. It is kind of funny the fuss that is made over these things,
But what if I said I saw God’s image today, the glorious image of God, reflected in the face of an 89-year-old lady, or a two-year-old child, That claim might seem rather over the top. There is a strong Biblical basis for it. A basis recognized in the devotion I came across this morning.
I love how Cardinal Ratzinger sees the image of Christ, not in a static picture or print, but in a life lived reflecting the glory, the love and mercy of God. The glory of God at work, redeeming and reconciling for Himself a people, and doing it through….. the people He has redeemed. The people He has reconciled to Himself. He causes them to love, as the Holy Spirit transforms them into the image of Jesus. The Holy Spirit molds them, and as Eph. 210 discusses – we are changed into a work of art, God’s great masterpiece,
A people who resemble their Lord and Savior, the One, who sent the Spirit, to focus them on Jesus, and transform them.
So the lady in my Bible Study, who always pauses to pray, and give thanks and know God’s love, in Her I see the image of God reflected. In the two year old, who is most comfortable and most at peace at the altar, even though she can’t explain what happened in her baptism, in the friend who reaches out and listens, even though pressed for time. In each the image of Christ is reflected, the glory of Christ is seen and known and experienced.
Lord, have mercy, and He shows He does, as people find the healing that is only in Christ while helping others heal.
(1) Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 219). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
We Can See!
2 Cor. 3:12-4:6
May the glorious gifts of mercy and peace you receive from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ shine into your world, as God transforms you into the image of Christ!
The Unnerving Glorious Mathematical Law
As we look at the incredible Transfiguration of Jesus, we need to understand it mathematically.
That is right; I said Mathematically.
We can show this mathematically, because of the of the epistle reading. We can understand why the transfiguration is much more than what was revealed that day to the three terrified apostles. As we see Christ revealed in all of His glory, we can make a connection from that event to our lives today, to our lives this week.
To what Paul talks about in Colossians 1,
“27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. Colossians 1:27 (NLT)
Read that last sentence, this gives you the assurance of sharing His glory.
What a glorious promise, what an incredible truth!
So what about the math?
There is a mathematical axiom that dates back to the time before Christ. It goes like this.
If A=B and B=C, then….
Now let’s apply it to scripture.
In verse 18 of our epistle reading from 2 Corinthians 3, it states this.
“And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”
So the transition could look like Our Image => Image of Christ
Jesus Christ is the exact likeness, the exact image of God,
Then we are being restored to what we were created to be, going all the way back to Genesis,
27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NLT)
This is amazing, glorious, that we would be undergoing a transfiguration that will leave us sharing in the glory of Christ.
That is the work of God in us! This is true of you and me, for we are being remade in the image of God!
That Which obscures this in all of us
That is a heavy burden if you consider it for a moment.
Does God expect us to live, to speak, to think… like Jesus, to be like God, in whose image we are created?
Are we going to be judged based on how well we each resemble Jesus? How our thoughts are His thoughts, whether we love others like He did?
I think that is the problem the Jews had, for they measured their righteousness against the Old Covenant law. Because of that, all they could see was failure, they missed the presence of God. They hear the “you shall keep the Sabbath Day Holy” and miss the idea that we find rest in God’s presence, as He gathers us together, as His family. They hear “you shall not bear false testimony,” and look around at all the evil and unrighteousness, not realizing the comfort and security we have, trusting Jesus to care for us as promised.
Legalism comes from looking at the rules, and trying to keep them, without realizing why we do so. As we focus on the law, we are blinded to the God, who describes our life with Him in that law.
Because we are blinded, we miss Him!
If the Law is our focus, our lives our failures, for the burden is beyond anything anyone can accomplish. Judged by that law, we know what scripture tells, we all fall short of His glory. All have sinned, no one is good, no one but God!.
Even the reflection of God’s glory in the face of Moses would fade…as it did as Moses left the presence of God.
How this transformation occurs
This transformation then is not by our effort; it never could be! We cannot keep the law perfectly. That veil, that inability to look to God, to recognize His presence can only be removed by God.
Notice it says,
18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.
We’ve had that veiled removed; it is not something we’ve done. It is the work of Christ, on the cross, and pays for all our sin. It is the Holy Spirit at work as well, who through word and sacraments like baptism and the Eucharist assures us that we are united to Jesus. United to Him in death, and then that death, that veil removed as we rise with Him, cleansed and healed. We’ve become adopted children of God our Father.
We are being transformed into His image, even as we see the glory of God in Christ, as we adore Him. As we look to Him, as our focus moves off of our sins and failures, and off of those around us, we begin to reflect that glory, it becames more and more natural…
That is why Paul tells the church in Ephesus,
4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT)
This transformation we are undergoing, it gives to God great pleasure!
This transformation, where the Spirit removes the veil in baptism, who keeps us close as we commune, as we hear that our sins are forgiven, that we can see God!
What this transformation looks like..
What an amazing change this is in life, to know God’s desire is fulfilled in reconciling us to Himself, in revealing His presence in every aspect of our life! In securing us to Jesus.
The results? Paul talks about this way of God giving us boldness, that we will never give up! That as His mercy is revealed, as we know it is mercy and love towards us, we stand in that love.
Everything else fails away, for there is nothing that compares to it. We do not have to force God’s love on people; we simply share the hope we have. We do not have to put out false images of perfect lives, we can share the hope that comes from seeing God, and that image becomes imprinted on us.
It is why Paul can use the “image” idea as he tells the people in Corinth,
33 I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I do not just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved. 1 And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:33-11:1 (NLT)
Going back to our math, and the A=B and B=C, we find ourselves, our eyes on Christ, running a race without thought of sin, just focusing on Him. We see that image imprinted on Paul. Knowing His love, being transformed into His image.
We find ourselves doing what Christ did, inviting people into the presence of God, making the sacrifices that would remove that which blocks them from Him. For that is what He did.
So look to Jesus, for you can see Him! He is the author and perfector of your faith, who with joy gave it all, discounting the shame, the pain! Who now waits for us at the right hand of the Father!
That is our destination; that is why the Spirit transforms us, readying us for that day. Comforting, empowering, causing us to grow and transform, as we dwell in His amazing peace. AMEN!