Monthly Archives: February 2015

Conformed to The Image of Christ

 

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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

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Resetting My Default Image

My husband and I have developed the habit of reading out loud together.  We recently completed The Work Of His Hands, The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Being Conformed To The Image Of Christ by Ken Gire. 

In his prologue Mr. Gire said,”The Work Of His Hands focuses more on the everyday circumstances that chip away at the sometimes stubborn stone of the self to conform us to the image of Christ.”  As part of his research for the book,  he studied photographs of Michelangelo’s sculpture, The Pieta.  He explained that his personal reflections on the photographs “not only helped shape this project but also my thinking of what it means to be conformed to the image of Christ, both individually, as a person, and collectively, as the Body of Christ.”

Mr. Gire’s profound, small book has dramatically impacted my vision of what it looks like to be conformed to Christ.  As a Christ follower who grew up in the Protestant tradition,  I have spent a lifetime gazing upon empty crosses, rather than on crucifixes, which perhaps has been a shame.

To say I was shocked by the idea of looking like my Lord’s broken, wounded, bleeding dead body across his mother’s lap is no mere exaggeration.  I was recoiled by the idea, even when the thought was a metaphor, rather than a contemplation of being martyred for my faith in the one who died for me.

I find my feelings surprising, since a string of scriptures, calling me to die, pop up in my mind quite readily – the first being, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2;20)  I want to cooperate with Almighty God, The Father, in His plan to make me like His Son.  I am thrilled by the prospect of one day being good like Jesus, of sharing His Glory in Glory.  That image excites me.  The image of the Glorified Jesus is my default image when I am reminded that the goal of my salvation is to be conformed to His image.   Now The Pieta intrudes with another image that replaces the former.  I am being called to reset my mind with a new, disturbing default image.

Ken Gire’s book is now setting on the shelf of a bookcase, but his penetrating study of The Pieta remains with me, as I ponder each day what it means to die with Christ in my daily life, what it means to look like Him today.

I am reminded of Paul’s words in the third chapter of Philippians, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”  It is my prayer.

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