The good news of the resurrection is that there is a real you, more ‘you’ than you can possibly imagine. And as you become more and more gripped by the life of Jesus you become more and more uniquely yourself. You become more and more of what God in Christ has made you to be. A faithful image and representative of God on earth.
Man is the image of God. It is not some part of his being tucked away in the corner of his heart. It is not his reason, his affection or his soul. It is the total man. Male and female, we are the image of God. It is what makes us human. It is what we are.
Perhaps you have visited a friend after a long, debilitating illness and come away saying, “He is a shadow of his former self.” It’s a fitting picture of the man who continually rejects his existence as the image of God until it, and therefore he, is finally and fully dissolved.
Unbelief is the shadowy man moving toward a shapeless, lifeless, formless existence as he becomes less and less human.
Faith is mankind being lifted up from his shadowy grave and restored as the image of God through Jesus Christ, the True Man and the exact imprint of His nature (Hebrews 1:3).
In Jesus, man becomes more truly human, more complete, more defined. The death and resurrection of Jesus transforms our mortal existence, making it more solid, more substantive and more complete than ever before.
And so Paul,
For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Corinthians 5:4)
This is the hope of the gospel. Not that we be unclothed, but that we be more fully clothed. Not that we become less human but more human in the likeness and image of the Immortal Man, Jesus.
Among other things, this means that the Christian faith is anything but boring.
What is boring is shrinking. What is boring is becoming less and less than you already are. Gollum. What is dull is dancing to the same-same tune of your lusts, your envy, your bitterness and your greed.
What is tedious is marching like a clone toward a small-small formless world where the only thing that increases is your decay.
The world knows it is a shadow of what it ought to be. And so it chants, “be yourself”, “find yourself”. The quest is real and good, but the direction is dull. The direction is all wrong.
Man does not and cannot define himself. Man is defined. If he rejects the definition of who he is, he does not magically morph into something else. He simply (and sadly) fades. He becomes a wasteland, a shadow, a vapour of his former self.
An image is representative and this is what we are: God’s representatives. We were created to represent all that is good and true and beautiful in God. To be truly human is to be the image of God. To manifest His love, His charity and His joy to the world. To this end, we are being transformed into the image we see in the True Man, Jesus Christ.
It is the way of the cross, which, as it turns out, is not the ultimate loss, but the ultimate gain. Not less, but more. Not shadow, but substance.
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