Likeness By Gary Henry
Life in God is not about us; it is about Him. We need to be reminded of this. In a day when “self-actualization” is thought by many to be the ultimate goal, we must remember that Christianity is not about the simple reformation (or even the “actualization”) of our own character. It is about the character of Christ being formed within us. Christianity is about God.
It is clearly true that our own characters need to be reformed. The sins we’ve allowed to creep into our lives have marred us and made us into beings very different from those we were created to be. But God’s purpose in dealing with sin is not merely to remove the habits that hinder us from “self-actualization.” As Lilias Trotter wrote, “Holiness means something more than the sweeping away of the old leaves of sin; it means the life of Jesus developed in us.” This is the very desire Paul indicated when he addressed the Galatian Christians: “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19).
In the New Testament, our coming to bear a closer likeness to God is nothing less than the goal of the gospel. Paul wrote, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). And writing to another group of Christians, Peter said that God’s power “has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4). We are called to partake of God’s own nature.
God created us in His own image so that we could show forth His goodness and respond to His love. Sin destroys our ability to do these things, and if sin’s damage is to be undone, we must not only be forgiven of the sin itself, but we must be remade in God’s image. He has arranged for us to be crucified and recreated. To seek Him is to seek this very thing.
“The essence of true holiness is conformity to the nature and will of God” (Samuel Lucas).