The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God… (Hebrews 1:3a)
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29, ESV)
2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3, NIV)
What is the purpose, goal and ultimate end of this life of faith?
I think that we could come up with a wide and varied list of answers to the question. And, I do not think that any of those answers would be wrong or inappropriate. What I would say is that many of our answers would probably be much too shallow to accurately represent how God sees us. To think otherwise might somewhat naive on our part. God’s ultimate purpose for his people must be greater and grander than anything we could even conceive. If it is something that we could conjure up in our own minds and hearts we would be able to make ourselves equal to God.
The power of God to transform us from what we are to what he intends for us to be is something truly amazing. I say this, and I know that I do not fully understand what I am thinking. Just imagining a time in my future where I will be perfect. Where every action, thought and word will be correct. Thinking about a time where I will no longer be the source of pain or suffering to those I care for most. That I will no longer make a mistake in judgment that will bring about negative or unintended consequences to those I have never met. That truly is a wonderful thought. I can only dream about what that will be like
Over the course of this series I have hoped to expand our understanding of faith. Knowing what something is can help us to live better and choose better. But, faith is not like most other subjects. Faith, unlike many other things in life, is something that comes from God and works its way through us. Faith is dependent on an object. It is impossible to have faith in nothing. That is a contradiction in ideas. Faith always points to something outside of itself.
What I have come to realize is that our faith, this faith in Jesus, is not something that we strive for. While there are times that we can talk about pushing into our faith, or holding onto faith, the Christian faith is of a different nature. Faith in Christ takes hold of us, it pulls us forward, it calls us to go deeper. Christian faith is not something that has be fabricated from within. Christian faith is poured in from without because the object of our faith is so compelling, so transforming that it provokes action.
This begs the question, “Why do we not see this more often in those of us that profess faith in Jesus?”
I think that the major reason is that we have not accepted the fact about one of the most important effects of our faith in our lives. That effect is that God desires to make us like Christ in every way. And, one of the most compelling ways that we are made like Christ is to radiate the very glory of God to the world. At no point are we to point to ourselves or our won glory.
Fundamentally what this means is that at the center of our lives is not what is at the center of Jesus’ life. Everything that Jesus did he did because that was exactly what God wanted him to do. Everything that Jesus said was exactly what God wanted him to say. Jesus and God were so close together that Jesus described the relationship between himself and the Father as being one (John 10:30). I know the theological realities that this statement was pointing to. However, it would be a terribly short-sighted perspective to dismiss the relational reality that Jesus is describing.
Do you remember Jesus prayer for the disciples and all disciples to follow? Jesus prayed that we would all be one. How? Just like Jesus relationship with God the Father. John captured Jesus’ prayer on this issue and recorded it in John 17:
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26, ESV, emphasis added)
I highlighted one phrase of this passage, but the entire paragraph is so rich with implications about what God desires for us to become because of our faith in the Son of God. It would take more space than is available here to explore what this means. Just read and re-read that paragraph a couple of times and see how Jesus joins together, not only his life with that of the Father’s, but also how Jesus joins our lives with God’s life.
Everything that God desires for the Son, he desires to be seen in those that are becoming like Jesus. The closer we draw to Jesus and the closer we walk with Jesus, the more like him we will become. The more we become like Jesus, the more like him we will be in radiating the glory of God to the world.