Thursday, April 19, 2012

Transformed by expectation

"The Vision of Christ" by William Blake

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 John 3:1-10

TO CHEW ON: "Beloved, now are we children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him, purifies himself for He is pure." 1 John 3:2-3

What do we do to prepare for the "hope" of a holiday?
- We begin by applying for and updating our travel documents.
- We service the car, or book our transportation.
- We reserve our accommodation.
- We plan activities and things to do once we get there.
- We pack suitable clothes (which may involve researching what kind of weather we can expect to find at our destination).

I could go on, but I'm sure you get the idea. Our holiday hope is preceded by a lot of intentional activities.

In our reading today John suggests that our hope of seeing Jesus is also preceded by something intentional: pure living. A footnote in my Bible sums it up concisely: "The prospect of being transformed into the likeness of Christ motivates Christians to live righteously" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1786.

I learned a lot from how Jerry Bridges describes the Christian's efforts to live a God-pleasing life (and its delicate balance between our effort and God's work) in his book The Transforming Power of the Gospel. His baby-Christian resolve ("I prayed a simple prayer: 'God, starting tonight, would You use the Bible to guide my conduct?'") was followed with frustration as he tried to live out the Bible's morality using his willpower. During the process he learned to rely on the Holy Spirit to help him apply Scripture to his life. But he learned that he couldn't be totally passive either. He sums up three conclusions he came to about living the transformed life during his years of struggle:

"1. The internal warfare between the flesh and the Spirit that Paul described in Galatians 5:17 is the normal Christian life ...

2. The more we grow in Christlikeness, the more sin we will see in our lives. It isn't that we are sinning more; rather we are growing m ore aware of and sensitive to sin that has been there all along ...

3. Spiritual transformation requires of us what I call dependent responsibility. All the moral commands and exhortations of Scripture assume our responsibility. We cannot 'just let Jesus live His life through me.' No, we are responsible. At the same time, we are dependent on the Holy Spirit to both do His own work and enable us through His power to do the work we must do" - Jerry Bridges, The Transforming Power of the Gospel, Kindle Location 193.

May these insights encourage us as we prepare for the day we see Jesus face to face!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus I do look forward to the day I will see You. May this hope inspire holy living in me. Amen.

MORE: "We Shall Behold Him" by Dottie Rambo

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