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“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2,3).

IN HIS DEALINGS WITH US, GOD HAS A GREAT GOAL. It is not merely to rescue us but to reform us. For all who will accept His plan, God intends to repair the damage sin has done to our character and make us into nothing less than perfect reproductions of His gloriously perfect Son: “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). Making this possible is why Christ died for us. And whatever secondary or intermediate blessings may be involved, we ought never to lose sight of what God is really after: our likeness to Jesus Christ, His Son.

We see this in the life-choices of Paul. He wanted to be like Christ in everything, even in suffering: “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10,11).

Today, we would do well to ponder the advice of the 18th-century Anglican, William Law, who said, “From morning to night keep Jesus in your heart, long for nothing, desire nothing, hope for nothing, but to have all that is within you changed into the spirit and temper of the Holy Jesus.” If this is not a driving force within us, we are settling for something less than the gospel of Christ.

To the Christians in Corinth, Paul wrote, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Far more than comfortable circumstances or emotional inspiration, to be conformed to the virtues of Christ’s character is what we want — at any cost. And not only is this our highest hope; it must be the goal we pursue more actively and energetically than any other. What did John say in our beginning text? “Everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

O to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer;
This is my constant longing and pray’r;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
(Thomas O. Chisholm)

Gary Henry — +

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