Two Contrasting Images

As I continue my meditation on being conformed to the image of Christ (see my last two posts),  I ask, “What then do I mortify?”  –  “What constitutes my sinful nature?”.

In Colossians 3:5, Paul says, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed which is idolatry.”  He further elaborates in the same chapter, verses 8-10.  “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Is it possible to follow Paul’s instructions in Colossians and still not fully reflect the image of Christ?  “Is there something more?”,  I ask.

In Philippians 2, as Paul calls us to humility, he reminds us that our Lord did not consider equality with God something to be grasped – that he made himself nothing, taking on the nature of a servant, the likeness of man – he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.   Luke reports in his gospel in chapter 23:34 that while in his agony on the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

To look like Jesus, to be conformed to his image in his death, means I must mortify my pride and my desire for revenge.  To reflect the image of the Savior I must surrender my will to the will of the Father, and I must forgive.

I recently watched the movie Philomena.  At the end of the movie there was a confrontation between Philomena and a nun that graphically illustrates how mortifying just the flesh alone will not result in conformity to our Lord Jesus.  The nun, who had put to death her sexual urges, held herself self-righteously above Philomena, who had been an unwed mother.   The nun lied without remorse and issued no apology for having prevented Philomena’s birth son from finding Philomena before his death. The confrontation between the two women ended with Philomena saying, “Well, I forgive you.”   The contrast between the two  women was stark.  The one woman looked like Jesus and the other one did not resemble him at all.

Dear Father,  I want to look like Jesus.  I want to be like him   Please help me mortify my pride and all desire for revenge.  Help me to forgive each time I am wounded.  Amen

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