What Would You Like to Change?
Maybe you’d choose to change your appearance, or find a partner, or have better-behaved children. Perhaps you’re seeking one more step up the career ladder, or maybe just to get onto a career ladder. Maybe you’d like to be more confident and witty, or maybe less angry or depressed, or less controlled by your emotions.
We all want to change in some way. Some of these changes are good, others not so good. But the problem with all of them is that they’re not ambitious enough. God offers us something more—much, much more!
Broken Image Bearers
In the opening chapter of the Bible we read, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him” (Genesis 1:27). We were made to be God’s image on earth: to know him, to share his rule over the world, to reflect his glory.
The problem is that this is now a broken image because humanity has rejected God. So we try to live our lives our way, and we make a mess of things. We struggle to be God’s image on earth. We no longer reflect his glory as we should. God’s verdict on humanity is: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
We’ve failed to be the image of God we were made to be. We can’t be the people we want to be, let alone the people we ought to be.
God’s Agenda for Change
Enter Jesus, “the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4):
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (Colossians 1:15) He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature. (Hebrews 1:3) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Jesus shows us God’s agenda for change. God isn’t interested in making us religious.
Think of Jesus, who was hated by religious people. God isn’t interested in making us spiritual if by spiritual we mean detached. Jesus was God getting involved with us. God isn’t interested in making us self-absorbed: Jesus was self-giving personified. God isn’t interested in serenity: Jesus was passionate for God, angry at sin, weeping for the city. The word holy means “set apart” or “consecrated.” For Jesus, holiness meant being set apart from, or different from, our sinful ways. It didn’t mean being set apart from the world, but being consecrated to God in the world. He was God’s glory in and for the world.
For Jesus, holiness meant being set apart from, or different from, our sinful ways.
Jesus is the perfect person, the true image of God, the glory of the Father. And God’s agenda for change is for us to become like Jesus.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:28–30)
Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1–2; see also 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 2:5; 1 Peter 2:21)
Whoever claims to live in [God] must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6, NIV; see also 3:16–17; 4:10–11)
Making us like Jesus was God’s plan from the beginning.
Too Much for Us
I’d like to play soccer like David Beckham. I could watch videos of him in action. I could study what he does. I might even persuade him to tutor me. All this might lead to a small improvement in my abilities, but it’s not going to turn me into a great soccer player.
I want to be like Jesus. I can observe him in action as I read the Gospels. I can study the life he lived and the love he showed. I could try very hard to imitate him. But at best that would lead only to a small, short-lived improvement, and indeed even that small improvement would probably only make me proud. I need more than an example. I need help. I need someone to change me. Trying to imitate Jesus on its own only leaves me feeling like a failure. I can’t be like him. I can’t match up. I need sorting out. I need rescuing. I need forgiveness.
The great news is that Jesus is not only my example but also my Redeemer. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When you become a Christian, something amazing happens: you are a new creation. The power of God that made the sun and stars is focused down like a laser into your heart. God steps into the world, as it were, and creates all over again. We’re transformed, reborn, made new.
At creation God spoke a word into the darkness, and there was light. He spoke a word into the chaos, and there was beauty. And now again God speaks a word through the gospel. He speaks into the darkness of our hearts, and there is light. He speaks into the chaos of our lives, and there is beauty
Re-Created in God’s Image
What does it mean for us to be a new creation? It means we’re re-created in the image of God. It means we’re given new life so we can grow like Christ. And being like Christ means being like God, reflecting God’s glory as God’s image.
Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven [Jesus]. (1 Corinthians 15:49)
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (Colossians 3:9–10)
Jesus came to remake us in God’s image. Jesus took our brokenness, our hatred, and our curse on himself on the cross. He took the penalty of our sin and in its place gave us a new life and new love.
God is in the business of change. He’s interested in making us like Jesus.
This article is adapted from You Can Change: God's Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions by Tim Chester.