I continue to meditate on what it means to be conformed to the image of Christ, not the resurrected, glorified Jesus, but the crucified Jesus.
I read Romans 8 again and again to plumb the depths of its meaning, its truth. “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” (Romans 8:5)
I have a choice every morning to set my mind on either the desires of the sinful nature or the desires of the Spirit of God. I will live each day, one day at a time, according to how my mind is set.
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may share in his glory.” (Romans 8:16-17)
Sharing his sufferings is the prerequisite for sharing in his glory. This is true whether I want it to be true or not. Twenty-one Christians recently lived and died this reality. They were conformed to the image of Christ in his death and today share his glory in his Father’s Kingdom.
Although all Christ followers are not called to martyrdom, they are all called to death. Perhaps I am not called to give up my life for my faith in Christ, but each morning Jesus calls me to take up my cross and follow him. Paul tells me in Romans 8:12-14 that I have an obligation to put to death the sinful nature by the Spirit of God who lives in me. Earlier in the same chapter, Paul reminds me that the Spirit of God raised Christ from the dead. This same mighty power is available to me, actually lives inside me.
If twenty-one of my fellow brothers in Christ gave their lives up for the Jesus they loved, I can certainly, by the Spirit’s power at work within me, die countless daily deaths by setting my mind on the desires of God and saying no to my sinful desires and inclinations. No to pride, jealousy. lust, anger and rage. Yes to love, mercy, forgiveness and generosity. No to my dreams. Yes to God’s dreams. No to rebellion. Yes to surrender to the One who knows me best, loves me most, and gave himself to be my sin offering.
Holy Spirit, conform me to the image of Christ. Let me be like him in his death. Remind me each morning to set my mind on the desires of God. Give me power each day to say no to my sinful nature – to live as dead to that nature, to live as alive to the God who loves me, saying yes to Him again and again, hour by hour. Enable me to do this out of my passion for the Lord Jesus. Let me identify with him, in his death by dying in the flames of my love for him. Let me do this to honor Christ and the twenty-one Coptic Christians who just gave their lives for him. Amen