January 23, 2016

Becoming like Jesus?

Sometimes pets and their owners become lookalikes. It happens to married couples too. Interestingly, the Bible says that if anyone makes an idol the object of their attention, they I will become like that idol — a scary thought! But it is also true if I make Jesus the object of my attention, the focus of my gaze.

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)

Chambers says this outstanding truth about being a Christian means having an “unveiled frankness before God so that the life becomes a mirror for other lives.” He adds that we are transformed when filled with the Holy Spirit, and we become a mirror for the glory of God by beholding His glory.

Mirrors are unaware of their power to reflect. They are just mirrors. But the people around them see the reflection. When it comes to reflecting the glory of the Lord, I have one friend who is so transparent that Jesus shines in his life, yet if told this, he would be puzzled. He doesn’t see that in himself.

As for me, I know what mucks up my ability to reflect Christ— sin, selfishness, and lack of faith. However, good things rather than the best things can also do it. In fact, a “nice” person is not necessarily filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus had occasions where He would not have been considered “nice” — such as taking a whip and driving the money-changers out of the temple, or calling the religious leaders “white-washed sepulchers” but He was always filled with the Spirit.

Sometimes people cannot see Jesus’ glory in others because their ability to see God is flawed. Their eyes can be veiled by unbelief and sinful rebellion. They will see something, but not necessarily recognize what it is. Or they will see themselves in that mirror and not be thrilled at what God is showing them.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:22–24)

James uses the ‘looking in a mirror’ concept to suggest that when I am filled with the Spirit and looking at the glory of God, I will see myself more clearly, like God sees me. I may not like that revelation, but God wants me to allow that reflection to keep me open toward Him.

Then, as I concentrate on Him, He will transform me as I keep myself in the place of beholding, not allowing anything to obscure or cover over my life that is “hid with Christ in God.” As Chambers says, the severest discipline of a Christian’s life is to learn how to keep “beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord.”

All of this is tied to loving God and loving others. Love is a powerful component of becoming like Jesus, a perfection that is partial now, but God keeps polishing, knowing exactly what is needed. Even the best and clearest “mirrors” do not reflect Jesus perfectly, but one day they will.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:8–12)

Bob’s symptoms have not improved. He cannot sleep because of fever and rapid pulse. He is still short of breath. The doctor decided to switch the medication, hopefully to something that works. However, with CLL his red blood cell count is down. Since red blood cells carry oxygen to the body, this might explain why he is still having trouble breathing. This afternoon they started blood transfusions, red cells only. I left the hospital at 5:30 just as the first unit finished and the second was ready to hook up.

As for me, this is exhausting. I try to keep my focus on the Lord and have to agree with Chambers that this is a “severe discipline.” Like Bob, all I want to do is sleep.

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