There is so much to ponder in the light of this great mystery we encounter each year as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. And this short passage from Colossians takes us into the very depths of it.
There is so much to ponder in the light of this great mystery we encounter each year as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. And this short passage from Colossians takes us into the very depths of it. In this passage we are confronted with a truth about ourselves that makes us tremble. We are filled with awe and wonder at what this passage tells us.
We are told that we are made in the image and likeness of God. We may have wondered at the meaning of that idea. What is the image of God? What does being made in the image of God mean for our own lives? In Jesus, and in his public ministry, his suffering and death, we are confronted with the very image of that invisible God. In Jesus we see what being made in the image of the invisible God looks like. We see what it ought to look like in each one of us. In the Apostle John’s first letter we are told that, “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” (1John 4:8) We are made in the image and likeness of Love. This, then, is the image we are to present to the world as Jesus did. That thought gives us pause, doesn’t it. This is what our suffering present world needs most. It needs Christians living up to the image and likeness of God in which they are made.
What does God’s love look like? It is revealed to us perfectly in Jesus, in his words and deeds. It is revealed in his words when he says things like, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28) These are not “feel good platitudes.” Jesus walked this talk. And he left us with one commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus has made the image of God visible and tangible. He calls us to do the same. This, quite naturally, should cause us to quake with the fear of the Lord that leads to wisdom.
We, of course, understand ourselves to be sinners. We fall short of the image and likeness we are created in all too often. Yet, Jesus, the image of the invisible God, shows us that God’s love for us remains faithful. Jesus shows us that God’s love is infinite and graciously merciful. But Jesus also challenges us to live up to the image and likeness we are made in through our own practice of love and forgiveness toward one another. Because we are sinners, we will never be perfect in this life, but we are to strive toward that perfection with our whole being: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Jesus give us the model and calls us to imitate him. He does not ask the impossible of us. It is simply our desire and our efforts to become more like the image we are made in that he asks of us. He gives us the graces we need to continue to grow more true to the image of God in through the thoughts, words, and the actions of our daily efforts.
Lord, in Jesus we see your true image and our calling in this life. Help us to keep our eyes on Jesus and grace us with the courage we need to imitate him more and more each day. Fill our hearts with an ever deepening desire to love others as you have loved us. We are nothing without your love and your grace. We pray for the humility to turn our minds and our hearts toward you in all that we say and do. In your name, Jesus, we pray. Amen!
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