Here’s another article I wrote for our church newsletter. Deron will be back next week, but I’ve appreciated the chance to stretch my writing muscles while he’s been gone!
On Sunday, we sang The Bread Has Been Broken before we joined together in communion. There’s a section of that song that’s been replaying in my head since Sunday morning: “His death reconciled us;/ we live sanctified to become what we already are.”
To become what we already are. This line brings to mind for me something that a speaker at an Elmwood women’s retreat said a few years ago. She said that a guiding statement in her life was “Imago Dei: Who I am and who I am becoming.” (Imago Dei is Latin for “the Image of God.”)
The most exciting part of the creation account to me is that God decides to make Adam and Eve in His image. How awesome is that?! Just by being alive and being human you are already an image-bearer of God. You are Imago Dei. Everyone you meet is Imago Dei. Hold that in your heart for a moment and see if you don’t get excited. That’s some good news, people!
On the flip side, however, I don’t think that any of us would say, “This livin’ like Jesus thing? I’ve got it down pat. I am holy as God is holy. Done and done.” We’re just not there. We all fall short. We’re image-bearers who also bear the dust, bruises, and scars from falling short of our holy callings on a daily basis. We must be about the work of becoming.
I think this is part of what makes the good news of Christ’s redemptive work in our lives so very good – I’m talking “good” in the creation-narrative-and-God-saw-that-it-was-good sense. Jesus, by His life and death, makes it possible for us to be restored to our original state of Imago Dei. Don’t miss that God twice makes us “what we already are”: first in lovingly creating us in His image and again in graciously sanctifying us and restoring us to that state of shalom goodness.
God patiently and faithfully stays with us as we live in a perpetual state of “becoming,” all the while knowing that “we already are.” It’s like the inaugurated eschatology (there’s your $2 theological term for the day) I mentioned last week regarding God’s kingdom – we are already what God created us to be but not yet fully.
We are still in the season of Epiphany – the season in which we recognize that Jesus is, in the fullest sense, Imago Dei and the Son of the Most High God, that He is fully God. In two weeks, however, is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. For centuries, Christians around the world have observed the Lenten season as a time of repentance and reflection as they prepare to commemorate the death and burial of Christ and celebrate His resurrection. It seems so fitting to me that we move from a season of recognizing who Jesus truly is to a season of repenting and recognizing that we are not yet fully who we were created to be and who we “already are.” May every season of your life be a season of “becoming” and growing into whom God made you and then redeemed you to be. May we each be reminded this week of who Jesus is and what He’s done for us to enable us to keep becoming more like Him.