On the Image and Likeness of Christ

John 20

Mary Magdalene and the other women return to the tomb on the first day of the week, which is Sunday, or the Lord’s day. The Church still holds this day as a blessed day, the day of Resurrection, sometimes referred to as the eighth day, or the day without end. It’s noteworthy that this day does not replace the Sabbath, but rather completes it. Saturday is still the Sabbath day, the day in which Christ rested in the tomb after the crucifixion, much as He rested on the Sabbath after the creation account in Genesis. It also bears note that, in the Genesis account, when the Lord rested, there is never an account of that work being finished until, on the cross, He declares, “it is finished.” Everything from the beginning of Genesis up until the crucifixion had led up to that point, it was all a part of the creation story; and that story was not perfected until Jesus was lifted up on the cross.

With that being the case, then in creating man and woman in the image and likeness of God; then it is in this, the image and likeness of the crucified Christ. That image is the very image which displays for us the life that we were created to live. A life lived fully for others, one that is fully sacrificial; willing to endure all suffering even unto death out of love for others. And it is only through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and our willingness to endure those things, to do those things which He did, to suffer as He suffered, that this image can be fully restored. To be “imitators of Christ” means not to necessarily suffer these things, but to be willing to do so. To obediently and humbly submit ourselves to the will of the Father, regardless of what the consequences are for us. To love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and might and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is through this willingness, and this willingness alone, that we are made worthy to bear His name, as His ambassadors on earth.

We, as a generation, are horrible at this. We have this amazing trait of being very deeply superficial. When it comes to our faith, our lives are characterized by endless creeds, much book learning, laborious hours of study. And none of these things are bad in and of themselves; it is only when they are accompanied by an unchanged heart that they become sinful. I heard a quote recently that “what a man truly believes isn’t what he recites in his creeds, it is what he’s willing to die for.” And that sums up the entire concept of faith in the Western world. No matter how much knowledge we attain, if our faith doesn’t encompass our entire lives, it does not profit us anything. I heard someone make a statement that was wise beyond her years. She said, “I realized that either I don’t believe what Jesus said and would live my life as an agnostic, or I would believe Him and religion would become my life; there is no in-between.” And that’s sort of what we see whenever we look at the Scripture. There is no grey area between the two, no Biblical example of a “lukewarm Christian.” You either “deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow,” or you don’t. But to be a follower of Jesus, that’s what He said it requires.

There are two masters in the world, two targets. There is Jesus and there is Satan. And every thought you think, every word you utter, every action you do, you must remember this; whatever doesn’t make you more like one, makes you more like the other. May we allow this thought to lead us each moment of our lives.

May the grace of the Lord be with us all. Christ is in our midst.

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