This wasn’t originally going to be a 2-part post, but since my last post God has brought to my attention a few other passages that tie in really well with the glory of God and our becoming more like Christ, so I thought I would share them! I am sure that there are many more beyond these, but here is a little of what I’ve been meditating on recently.
First of all, a look at Romans 8... Most of us can probably quote verse 28, which reminds us that God is using all things for good in the lives of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. But the next verse is very important in the context of understanding just what this purpose is that He has for us. It tells us that He has predestined those who are called to become conformed to the image of His Son. Therefore, all that God allows into our lives is a part of His good purpose to make us more and more like Christ – His ultimate goal for every believer! God’s sovereignty is seen very clearly in this passage, in that He is the one calling, conforming us to the image of His Son, and causing all things to work together towards that end in our lives.
With that in mind, I want to jump back to 2 Corinthians 3:18 for a minute. This verse is about how God through the Spirit is transforming believers into the image of His Son. This happens as we behold His glory, and the primary place where we can behold His glory is in His Word. The more we are in His Word, and the more we gaze upon His beauty as revealed there, the more we are changed to reflect that glory, that is, the more we become like Christ – God’s ultimate purpose for us! So there is a spiritual seeing that is necessary, an ability to behold God’s glory, in order for renewal and change to take place, and this is increasing, progressive.
Then down in chapter 4 verse 6, we are told that God is the One who has opened our spiritual eyes so that we might see His glory in the face of Christ. In verse 7, He has placed this glory within weak vessels like us, so that it would be His glory in Christ that would be displayed through our weakness. He may allow us to be afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, so that through our weakness and suffering the life of Christ might be manifested in our body (verses 10-11). As Christ is revealed through us and more people are pointed to Him, more praise is given to God, and He is greatly glorified (verse 15). For this reason then, we can persevere through suffering and all manner of physical weakness, because that is the very thing that God is using to change us and produce in us the image of His Son – an eternal weight of glory that makes the sufferings of this life seem light and brief in comparison (verses 16-17). And then in verse 18, there is once again an emphasis on what we are choosing to look at, or focus on. If our focus is on temporal, physical things, we will lose heart and become discouraged. But if our focus is on who God is and His eternal purpose for us in Christ, it will completely change our perspective on the trials we are facing now.
Finally, there are a couple of interesting verses in 1 Peter that tie right in with this, too. Peter is writing to believers who are facing trials and encourages them in chapter 4 verse 13 to continue to share in Christ’s sufferings, so that they might rejoice at the revelation of His glory, of which they would be partakers. In chapter 5 verse 4 he encourages them to keep their focus on what is to come, when Christ, the Chief Shepherd, will appear, and they will receive an unfading crown of glory. And in verses 10-11, he wraps us his epistle to them with this encouragement: “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Wow! These are encouraging words indeed for anyone who is going through suffering. God has called us to eternal glory, and suffering is a part of His work of perfecting us and producing the image of Christ in us! He will be faithful to complete this work in us until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6)!