“Picture That”

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” That’s a question we frequently ask our children. Or, if we fail to ask them, they are quick to tell us what they want to become: a firefighter, a police office, a teacher, an astronaut, a baseball player. I’m sure these old standbys are still popular. And I’m sure they’ve been supplemented by more recent professions that weren’t around “back in the day,” like—computer programmer (not a hacker), videogame designer, social media analyst, or soccer player.

Times may have changed but the imagination of children has not. Ask them what they want to be and right away they will picture themselves in that role, as that person they want to become.

Then we grow up. Reality strikes. Not everyone can be an astronaut/ baseball star/ videogame designer. Fair enough. But do we lose the ability to dream big, God-sized dreams for ourselves? Do we lose the ability we had as children to envision what we might become?

The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Galatia about what happens to a person when they identify their lives with Jesus:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Picture that: A life no longer my own, but one that now belongs to Christ.

image001One of my recent devotional readings used the Galatians passage to make this stunning statement:

“Do you love the Lord with all your heart? He accepts us as we are now, and slowly molds us toward His image of what we can be. He knows us as we will be, and works to conform us to that image.”[1]

 

In case you missed the stunner, here it is: “He knows us as we will be…”

If we stop to think about who we are now, we should cringe at the thought of what God sees. But the good news is, who we are now is not all God sees. In fact, it’s not the main thing God sees when God looks at us. God sees what we will become in God’s future. We are works in progress, but God sees the finished product. In good Wesleyan terms, God sees us as our “perfected” selves, made perfect in love by Christ and in Christ.

Jesus told his disciples to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). It’s not something we do our own. It’s what we allow God to accomplish in us when we give our lives to Christ. This is not an easy thing because it requires death. It takes death of the self (“I have been crucified with Christ”); and it takes surrender of our worldly appetites, loyalties and allegiances.

It is not easy. In fact, it is a daily struggle to place ourselves in the will of God. When we do, the picture God has in mind for us becomes clearer. The image of God in us is restored. And the image of Christ takes shape in us.

Give over to God all that drags you down.

Give over to God your struggles, bad habits, and unwanted desires.

Give over to God your shortcomings, hurtful relationships, and pain.

Give over to God your puffed-up sense of self-importance and pride.

And receive the gift from God—forgiveness and acceptance as beloved children of God, sisters and brothers of Christ.

Picture that!

Pastor Bob

[1] Celtic Daily Prayer, (London: Collins, 2005), 609.

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