May 9, 2018
I’ve been working in the coffee business since I was fifteen. At the ripe young age of twenty-seven, I think it may go without saying that I enjoy a good cup of Joe…or two…every day. One could also assume that I have quite a few aprons at my house from my job(s). The other day, I found my two-year-old daughter putting on one of my aprons (which I happily assisted her with because I secretely dream of the day when my kids and I are able to bond over steaming cups of coffee at the kitchen table…such a sweet dream…but I’m off topic…). When she was adequately dressed for work, she began serving me and her younger brothers invisible, yet ‘dewicious,’ cups of coffee and plates of treats to our hearts’ content. Who knew pizza cake with clementines could be so good? Nowadays, any time she finds something resembling a counter to stand behind, she proceeds to serve us coffee, just like mommy does when she’s at work.
This story is just one little example of how children imitate the adults they look up to and love. We all know this. Especially when our children imitate us in areas of sin and weakness. The youngsters in our lives are trying to walk in our shoes; as they should during this time when they are learning and maturing into adulthood.
It’s the same concept in the spiritual life of a believer in Jesus Christ. When we were adopted as sons and daughters, by faith, into God’s family, we received the Spirit of the Son (Galatians 4:4-7). We were made into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), we were born again (John 3:3, 1Peter 1:3)! We are God’s children, grafted into his family through faith in the work of Jesus Christ. And what do children do? They imitate those they look up to and love.
With that thought in mind, Scripture says to the believer, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps.” (1 Peter 2:21) In this context, the writer is speaking primarily of the suffering that a believer will endure while walking on this earth, but I think the concept can be applied to all that Christ showed us of Himself and of the Father. He was, for us, the ultimate example of what it means and looks like to live this life with purpose, on purpose, in obedience to the Father.
But that’s not the only reference to being like Christ. Scripture also says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…(Romans 8:29) and “Be imitators of me (the apostle Paul) as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Wow. We, as children of God, are to be imitators of Christ. And even more so, it’s guaranteed that we will one day be completely conformed to his image. How do we do this? How do we reach this goal? How does the mother, who has laundry piled miles high and kids who can eat for days, begin to look like Jesus? How does the single gal, working two jobs, going to school, and balancing social media and “real life”, begin to look like Jesus? How does the widow, who has lost half of her identity and is becoming an empty nester, begin to look like Jesus?
Let’s look at Scripture. “And because you are sons, God has sent for the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6). It also says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).” And last (but not least!), “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).” As Christians, we have been given the Spirit of God. God, in his infinite and merciful wisdom, has made it possible for us to imitate him. All we need to do to be transformed into the same image is look upon the glory of the Lord, especially as he has revealed Himself in his Word. He is doing the changing. He has made us sons and daughters. He has confirmed this adoption with his Spirit. He has made us alive with His Spirit. And in the same way, he is causing us to walk in the Spirit.
Not to overkill the opening analogy; but my daughter, in her own capacity, can only imagine being like mommy. She can only make invisible coffee and invisible clementine pizza cake. But I can make the real stuff (not that I would ever serve my two-year-old coffee…or clementine pizza cake..whatever that is!). And if she comes to me, I can make it for her. Ultimately, as she watches and learns from me, she will be transformed into my image- able to fit into her very own apron and to brew coffee in the same way she was taught.
Ok…this analogy (like most) does begin to break apart when it comes to our completion in the Lord, but I think you get the point:
We cannot do anything in and of ourselves, but only through Christ who has made us into a new creation.
It’s nothing that we do, really (which is so hard to fathom…), but it is by faith. The way in which we were saved is the same way that we imitate and walk in the shoes of our Lord, on this earth, and are conformed to his image- faith. Faith! (1 Corinthians 6:11)
Even as I write out these things on what it means to walk in the Spirit, I still cannot quite grasp it. Are you in the same boat? If so, hang with me and let’s study this out and live this out together. Maybe by the time we get through this series of blog posts, we’ll be able to answer with clarity what is really means to walk this way. I think truly desiring to walk in the Spirit begins with a real idea of who God is and why we should imitate and follow him. Yes, we believe the Truth of the gospel, but do we really grasp the who behind the gospel’s proclimation? Let’s look at that a little deeper in the next post. Until then, here are some passages of Scripture to read up on and a few questions to answer to get us seriously considering living out our salvation on this side of eternity. While it may not look like us serving up invisible cups of coffee and interesting food combos to our loved ones, I think it will definitely look like us serving up the good works God has created us to do (just as Jesus, the perfect example, did when he walked this earth) (Ephasians 2:10).
Galatians. Excellent letter that talks about keeping in step with the Spirit.