“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.” (1 John 3:2)
Peggy and I find yard work to be relaxing and gratifying, and of the two of us it is usually she who has the clearer mental picture of a well-tended garden. It helps me to know what she is thinking, so before planting or pruning, I’ll proffer one clarifying request: “Just give me a vision for what you’re thinking.” Then with the same end in mind, we pursue it immediately and over time—we’ll know success as it blooms. In a far more wondrous way, God has a vision for what He is shaping us to be: when Christ returns, we will be like Him. We see ourselves as unworthy and think this to be impossible, and indeed in and of ourselves, this would be true. But God’s love is transformational love, steadily pruning and growing us toward the unimaginable: to be like Jesus and to share in His glory. This is where we are going.
Then how is it that we become like Jesus? Must I who have been saved by faith in Christ now somehow find it within me to change myself into His image? Thankfully, no. God’s command for us is this: “to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”1 John tells us, “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”2 Long before the Messiah “became flesh and made his dwelling among us,”3 God foretold of a day when “I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”4 It is through His Spirit in us that God unites us with Himself and changes us to be like Jesus in character, action and fruitfulness. Paul writes, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who … contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”5 He will never lead us in directions displeasing to God, but always in His ways of love, joy and peace, and “[a]gainst such things there is no law.”6 So today when we hear the Spirit’s voice, may we open our hearts and hands to Him, and follow. We will be changed.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:10-12).
Father, thank you for your great love. Do as you will: make us like Jesus, and be glorified in us. In His name we pray. Amen.
1 1 John 3:23
2 1 John 3:24
3 John 1:14
4 Ezekiel 36:27
5 2 Corinthians 3:17, 18
6 Galatians 5:22, 23