This morning Chambers prompts me to think about the people whom I know that are strongly like Christ. Three come to mind; my first mentor, a man in California, and a friend who used to live nearby. When in the presence of those three, I felt as if I was in the presence of the Lord.
However, God did not keep them close in my life. The mentor died, we no longer live in CA, and the friend has also moved away. Chambers connects this ‘loss’ to the gain of seeing Jesus. He quotes Isaiah . . .
“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1)
I’m not sure how much Isaiah looked up to King Uzziah, but when that man was gone, Isaiah had a vision of the Lord. Chambers says that God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place. He says the first response might be discouragement, but then we should ask when that person is gone or has died, do I give up everything, become ill or discouraged? Or do I say that I have seen the Lord?
My mentor was like Jesus in many ways. The strongest memory I have was her response to the death of her husband. During that time, God turned my fraidy-cat fear of Him concerning tragedies into a joyful realization of His grace and power. She changed my view of God by her Christ-like response to sorrow.
We were not close friends with the man in CA, but he exuded the love of God all the time. His joy was infectious. Seeing Jesus in him, I learned that I also could be joyful in ordinary situations. Being like Jesus means that I do not need to depending on circumstances to make me happy.
My friend who moved was also like Jesus in many ways. He is transparent, saying what is on his heart without putting on a mask or false persona to hide anything, including the life of Jesus Christ who shines through Him. He loves people unconditionally and is a superior encourager. Through him, God gave me a deeper understanding of His kindness, grace and unconditional love. He also showed me how to appreciate and practice integrity without pretense or fear of rejection.
Chambers says that my vision of God depends upon the state of my character and my character determines my vision of God. That is, God uses external events as well as internal purification to bring me to that place where I can see Jesus, and it is in seeing Jesus that I am transformed into His likeness . . .
“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 . . . .” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
While this transformation is incomplete in this life, one day it will be one hundred percent . . .
“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.” (1 John 3:2)
Becoming more like Jesus is influenced by seeing Him in others, but I cannot let the others ruin the goal of “God first, God second, and God third.” The danger is putting other people on pedestals (not good for them) or idolizing them (not good for me).
Chambers reminds me that if I am willing to live up to the vision of Him that He presents in other people, then I must also be willing to let Him remove those people from my life. He says to “keep paying that price” — which seems a very high price. However, being willing to suffer those losses is part of living for Him. His goal is not that I am surrounded by godly examples but that I can see Him better and be transformed and able to say, “In all the world there is none but thee, my God, there is none but thee.”