Paul's Ponderings

Spiritual Formation. Discipleship. Christian Living.

Created to Reflect God’s Character

Kroenke LakeEach one of us has something about our lives that we would like to change. We would like to lose a few pounds, have a different job, make more money, have a different hair color, or have a better relationship. From the serious to the superficial, no one is entirely happy with the person they have become.

God uses this craving for change to remind us that we were created to live a different type of life. No matter how great our lives are right now, God created us for more.

Genesis 1 tells us that we were created in the image of God. To be created in the image of God primarily means that we were created to reflect God’s character into this world. Just like a statue or a painting of George Washington gives us an idea what the first president looked like, the way we live our lives is to reflect the love, generosity, compassion, creativity, and grace of God.

Sadly, sin makes it impossible for us to live in a way that allows us to accurately reflect God’s character. This is the reason why, even in the midst of great success and contentment, we fell like we are not living up to our potential. The simple reality is that it has become impossible for us to fully live the type of life that God created us to live.

What are we to do?

A good way to learn a new skill is to observe someone who does that skill well. When I wanted to learn how to carve, the best thing I could do was to watch and gain instruction for a man who knew what he was doing.

If we are to reflect God’s image into this world, then we need to turn to Jesus. Jesus successfully reflected God’s character to the world. Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus “is the visible image of the invisible God” (NLT). Hebrews 1:3 adds, “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God” (NLT). Jesus perfectly reflected the character of God into the world. By being the perfect image of God, Jesus shows us what it means to be truly human.

To live out our original design and become image bearers of God requires us to life like Jesus. John wrote; “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” (1 John 26; NLT). This is the only way we can begin to satisfy the soul craving of change that plagues our lives.

The obstacle that we face as we seek to live like Jesus is that we lack the wisdom, discernment, strength, and endurance of Jesus. We cannot summon up enough willpower and self-control to imitate his life. Experience has taught us that we don’t have what it takes.

If we lack the ability to live like Jesus, what is our option?

The only option that I know about is live a life that is guided by the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5 the apostle Paul wrote that there are two ways we can live our lives. We can live our lives guided by the flesh or we can live lives guided by the Holy Spirit.

The flesh (translations such as the NIV or the NLT translates the word as sinful nature, but I prefer the notion of the flesh) is more than our desires. The flesh also includes the world and its systems. We are born into a world of sin, not because we have a sinful nature, but because every aspect of the world has been corrupted by sin. Our economic systems, political systems, family systems, and educational systems are all tainted by sin.This is why Peter wrote that we are saved from “the empty life” that we “inherited from” our ancestors (1 Peter 1:18; NLT).

Living a life guided by the flesh, being pushed along by our desires and the ways of the the culture around us, means that we will live a life corrupted by sin. A flesh guided life will end in destruction (Galatians 5:21 and 6:8).

A life that is guided by the Spirit, living in the light of God’s wisdom and strength, will lead to a life that looks like Jesus. (Tweet this) Galatians 5:22-23 provides us a good description of the type of life that Jesus lived. A life that is dominated by love, goodness, peace, joy, self-control, and the rest is a Jesus type life.

It is interesting to note, that contrary to popular teaching, there are not fruits of the Spirit. The word fruit is singular in the original language. There is one fruit of the Spirit and love, joy, peace, etc. describe that fruit.

What is the fruit of the Spirit? If we connect it to the harvest that is reaped when we sow to the Spirit, as mentioned Galatians 6:8, we discover that the fruit of the Spirit is eternal life. That is the type of life that we are seeking.

You and I were created to reflect God’s character into the world. The only we can live out our design is to live like Jesus. The Bible tells us that the only way for us to live like Jesus is to live a life guided by the Holy Spirit. We need to make room in our lives to allow the Spirit to guide us where he wants us to go.

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