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“Your life is not made up of a few random decisions here and there with no larger significance. Your daily choices to love God and love others are part of a grand destiny to become like Jesus.”
We have been working through our discipleship pathway piece by piece, looking deeper at the basic Christian life so that we can obey Jesus’ greatest commandment to love God and love others. Today we come to the final piece: the goal of Christlikeness.
The Bible talks regularly about the results of loving God and others. Romans 8:28 tells us that we are being conformed into the image of Christ. Paul asks the Corinthians to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). And the entire concept of discipleship is based on this: a disciple becomes like his master, a student becomes like his teacher. Throughout the Bible, God’s people are growing in a specific direction: towards Christlikeness.
When we take a closer look at Romans 8:28 we see how significant this goal is. Paul writes that God “predestined [Christians] to be conformed to the image of his Son.” While there are many philosophical questions around the idea of predestination, we can’t let them distract us from the truth Paul is communicating: every Christian has a destiny. Your life is not made up of a few random decisions here and there with no larger significance. Your daily choices to love God and love others are part of a grand destiny to become like Jesus.
This helps explain why the Bible calls us to keep our eyes on Christ. Paul tells us that “beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image” (2 Cor 3:8). When we behold the glory of Jesus, we are drawn towards our destiny. But when we behold the glory of something else, we find ourselves walking towards the wrong goal. This will inevitably lead us to stop loving God and loving others, because those things won’t get us to our (false) goal. For example, if we behold the glory of control (which pales in comparison to the glory of Christ), we will stop loving God and others when it keeps us from being in control of our lives. If we take our eyes off of Christ as our goal, we walk away from our destiny.
So how do we keep our eyes on the true goal? It must run deeper than techniques or willing ourselves to avoid false goals. Paul gives us an answer in 2 Corinthians 3:8—we must behold the glory of the Lord. Glory is difficult to define, but we can understand it as the awesomeness of God: the awesomeness of his love, the awesomeness of his holiness, even the sheer awesomeness of his “God-ness.” So to behold the glory of the Lord is to be captivated by his awesomeness. And we can behold the glory of the Lord in a unique way as Christians. Because we live on this side of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we can see the ultimate glory of God: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The gospel of Jesus Christ is where we see the glory of God.
Beholding this beauty is what changes us from the inside out. Because we are captivated by the beauty of the one who came, died, and rose for us, we are drawn towards him. We love God and love others because he has saved us (gospel motivation), and as we love God and love others we become like the one who saved us (the goal of Christlikeness).
So we finally see our discipleship pathway rightly. The path we walk on is not a journey of self-inspection (“Am I loving God right?”, “I’m so worried I’m not growing enough in prayer!”). It is a journey of delight in the glory of Jesus Christ, a glory that draws us towards him as we walk in love for God and others. A journey that takes us to our ultimate destiny: the image of Christ, for all eternity.
Brian serves the church by overseeing preaching and Sunday morning services at Cornerstone.
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