One of God’s guaranteed purposes in the lives of His children is that they will become like Jesus. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). What a promise that is! If I belong to the Lord, well then – gradually in this life, and completely in the next – I will become like Jesus in His perfect, sinless humanity (though, of course, I will never be like Him in many aspects of His deity).
Oh, to be more like Jesus! Surely that is the heartbeat of every true child of God. And God says that it is guaranteed! He Himself will make sure of it! “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
And yet at the same time, there are things that we can (and must) do to work out this sanctifying portion of our salvation – confessing sin, cutting off the hands that cause it, seeking accountability, associating with the lowly, opening our hands to the poor, and so on. All these (and many more) practical efforts will come into play is we seek to be more like our Savior.
But it seems to me that there is one thing that we must do most of all; one practical effort at Christ-likeness that really lies at the root of all these other things. Namely, in order to become like Jesus, we must be constantly gazing at Jesus! Read it again: We become like Jesus by fixing our eyes on Jesus! Becoming by beholding! Transformation by fixation! Here is the key to our sanctification:
“We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
Is it that simple? In some ways, yes! Because it is as we behold, admire, and gaze upon Jesus we begin to understand, and to love, and even to appropriately fear Him. And, as that happens, our desires begin to change, and our heart begins to be more and more warmed, and all of those practical activities listed above become more and more desirable to us – and even natural!
Now much of this transformation surely takes place secretly and mysteriously ... as the Holy Spirit works in ways that we cannot easily trace or analyze. We behold Jesus; and we become more like Jesus. And we can't always connect every single dot in between. But there are at least some dots we probably can connect. There are some ways in which we can perhaps predict how the Spirit will likely be at work in those who continually behold Jesus in faith.
For instance, look at Jesus’ example of kindness, and gentleness, and patience … and you will long for those qualities in yourself, and find them growing up under the sunbeams of His face! Look at the cruel death He died on the cross … and you will hate to keep committing the sins that put Him there! Look at Him risen and glorious … and gain confidence that “[you] too might walk in newness of life.” Look at Him interceding for you at the Father’s right hand … and know that, with His prayers lie wind at your back, you “will do valiantly.” Look at Him in His promised return … and you will be loath to be found in the midst of your sin when He comes again!
Look at Jesus – daily, consistently, carefully, and with faith – and you will become more and more like Him! For “we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image”