Thermometer or thermostat?
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV)
The goal of Abiding is transformation. Transformation to what? Transformation back into what we were designed to be when God first envisioned mankind: Living souls made in His image. Up to that point in the creation, God observed each thing He had created and declared it "good". Saving the best for last, He completed His creative work with the crowning achievement of man. It was at this point that He concluded, "Very good".
The Fall damaged the relationship we had with God. Through our own fear and pride, we became imperfect in our ability to execute our God-ordained role as image-bearers. But this unhappy circumstance was no surprise to God. He anticipated our condition and was desirous enough of a relationship with us that He had already begun work on a plan for redeeming His prized possession.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. -1 Peter 1:18-20 (NIV)
The work accomplished in Christ allows the relationship to be repaired and for us to again take our place as image-bearers. Not that we ever completely lost that ability, but it had been so tarnished and so influenced by our fallen environment that it was dim at best and in many cases, almost unrecognizable. But as at the beginning, God does not force Himself into our situation. He offers a choice, He offers a way, He provides a process, and He uses that same fallen world as a practice field for us to re-learn what it means to reflect His love and His glory.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. -Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)
This life change, this heart change, this transformation - happens in our Abiding. So transformation is a choice. Will I be a thermometer, observing and reflecting the temperature of my surroundings? Or will I be a thermostat, setting the temperature in my corner of the world, under the control of the One who made me and designed me for more? Gotta get my mind right. Repenting doesn't just mean turning from something; it means turning to something else. And for most of us, it's something that has to happen over and over again.
We'll unpack more of this in coming weeks. If you want a head start, tune into our podcast of Blake Pointer's presentation from April 5. You can find it here: https://www.convoynwa.org/audio. Specifically, we will look into:
What does transformation look like?
How long does transformation take?
What do I have to do to transform?
How will I know I'm being transformed?
Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. -2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (MSG)