Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recovering the Image of God

Fr. Dale Matson
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27, NASB).

St. Athanasius stated “God became man so that man might become God”. Luther repeated this in his Christmas sermon in 1514. I think an important understanding of this is that to the extent to which we participate in the Divine nature and as Christ is formed in us (Galatians 4:19), the image of God is restored in us and we become fully human. Obviously, Only Christ was fully human. None of us, even the saints become fully human on this earth. What does it mean to be fully human? I believe it is taking on the qualities of God like the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

How much of our condition before the fall is recovered as we are Sanctified/Deified? We don’t become “As God”, we share God’s qualities. Being fully human is a loss of self-consciousness and egocentricity but it is not the loss of person-hood. It is not the annihilation of personality. We become incarnational as The Holy Spirit dwells in us. It is having in us the mind that was in Christ Jesus. (1 Corinthians 2:16) In the words of Alexander Maclaren,[The notion of the indwelling Christ] “It is not to be weakened into any notion of participation in His likeness, sympathy with His character, submission to His influence, following His example, listening to His instruction, or the like. A dead Plato may so influence his followers, but that is not how a living Christ influences His disciples. What is meant is no mere influence derived, but separable, from Him, however blessed and gracious that influence might be, but it is the Presence of His own Self, exercising influences which are inseparable from his Presence, and only to be realized when He dwells in us.” I would add that it is also not cases of what people commonly refer to today as, “What would Jesus do?” (WWJD).

I believe the church has focused heavily today on what it considers to be the equipping of the Saints for service (Ephesians 4:12) but has neglected “...the fullness of Christ in Verse 13. The church could be convicted of child labor law infractions. Preaching today should resound with the basics of the person and work of Christ. What does it mean for Christians to be in Christ and what does it mean for Christ to be in them? This is restorative and transformative. This is not just Christ as Savior and Lord. It is Christ in you, the hope of Glory (Colossians 1:27). It is an awareness of the restoration of the image of God through the presence of Christ in all Christians. Amen

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