The Likeness of Christ

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In his groundbreaking book “Cross Vision”, Greg Boyd writes, “The way you imagine God largely determines the quality of your relationship with God. The intensity of your love for God will never outrun the beauty of the God you envision… the depth of your transformation into the likeness of Christ will never outrun the Christlikeness of your mental representation of God.” Jesus is the perfect representation of the Father.

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image © palidachan via Fotolia

He is at once both the flawless depiction of God and is God Himself. If we have seen Christ, we have seen the Father (John 14:9). Our eyes have looked on the face of God. If we want to know what God is like, we need only look at the person of Jesus. He alone perfectly reflected and manifested the Father. If we have an imperfect mental image of Christ, we will have an imperfect picture of God.

The goal of every disciple is to live their lives in the likeness of Christ. Chances are, if you are reading this, it is your goal. We want to look like Jesus. But we will never look like Him if our picture of Him is wrong in the first place. How do you see Jesus? Who is He to you? Most of us see Him as all-loving, all-good, all-powerful. We see Him as our Savior, the One who gave His own life in place of ours. He is the advocate who intercedes for us before the Throne of God. We see Jesus as the perfect lamb sacrificed for our sins so we might have eternal life with Him.

It’s the beginning of a good picture. What we often leave out is as important as all the rest. He is fierce and holy. He is worthy of our awe and fear. His love for us is so intense we cannot begin to conceive it. If we were to understand the smallest bit of how much He loves us, we would die. It would be too much, too great, too intense. He alone is worthy of all our praise and devotion for the simple fact of who He is. Forget about what He has done for us. Even without such a sacrifice, His love for us would force us to our knees. His beauty would immobilize us with wonder.

And here is the problem. If we believe this is who He is – and it is – how do we excuse the way we live? Can any of us seriously pretend we are living our lives in a way honoring to Him? Recount your last twenty-four hours. Did you live each moment in the awareness of Him? He is with you every second of every day of your life. He sees what you see. He does what you do. Has it been worthy of who He is? We both know the answer. I am left with no other conclusion than I am pathetic and small. My disrespect for His glory is beyond nauseating. We owe it to God to live in the likeness of Christ. Now what? What will you do with the awareness of such vile and revolting disrespect? How will you change? In what ways will your life be different when you stop reading? It’s a question each of us must answer. What’s your response?