Friday, June 15, 2012

The Image of Christ

Wednesday, we were driving back from a friend's T-ball game, and I was lost in my thoughts. There may have been a wee bit of self-pity. Ok, I was thinking of myself as a victim of injustice by undeserved rejection, double-standards, slander, and hard-heartedness. I was wondering if I lost control of my anger and too huffily defended myself. (If you're ever wondering this, the answer is most likely yes, yes you did.)
Nate gently interrupted my inner pity party, "I want you to listen to me, and hear me out even if you might not like it. Do you remember Romans 8:29?"

I did. Just a few weeks ago a precious, precious friend talked to me about Romans 8:29. She has lost so many children to miscarriage and grieved for each one. She said a well-meaning person said to her, "Romans 8:28 says, 'God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,' and one day in heaven you will know the reason why this has happened to you.". My friend sweetly and wisely replied, "But I already know why. It says in next verse, 'to become conformed to the image of His Son." God is making me more like Christ."
I told Nate I knew the verse. He asked, "What is the image of Christ? In Isaiah 53 it says, 'He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, And like one from whom men hid their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.' To be like Christ in this world will involve suffering. Rejection. People hating you. Slandering you. People you love will forget all the good you've done for them, and focus only on the negative until that's all they see. They will beat the snot out of you. You don't stop doing good, and you don't stop loving. You don't give in to bitterness. You just know that when the suffering comes, that is what it takes to be made into the likeness of Christ."
I knew he was right. He wasn't implying that I was sinless in conflict. The huffiness is a big sign that I wasn't. He was telling me not to be surprised at it, or to think it was the worst thing to ever happen to anyone, or to feel such a keen sense of injustice at the whole thing, and think I deserved better than Christ got. This morning I read the rest of the passage in Isaiah 53.

He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,
And like one from whom men hid their face,
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves considered Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening of our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.

I was in tears, overwhelmed at what my Lord has done for me, how He suffered for my sins. He is perfect, without sin. I am not. When I suffer, it is not as one who has spotless righteousness. I wish I had a tidy little summary of the overall lesson I learned from all this. I do not have that, except a growing love for my Savior. He was despised, not esteemed, considered by people to not be of God. But isn't He beautiful? Isn't he worth any little suffering we may go through? Isn't His love astonishing? His perfection amazing?

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written. 'FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.' But in all things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, not principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

p.s. Here is a hymn based on Isaiah 53:
Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted


  1. God has given you the best! He's shown you a glImpse of that sovereign grace he so freely gives! Amazing love, how can it be?

  2. So glad to read how Jesus is comforting you as no one else can.