We Would See Jesus

. . . the Invitation to Image-Bearing and Christ-Imitation

The Image of Christ
The Imitation of Christ

I can't stop thinking about the Christian life in this way. Today is a little Bible study with ENORMOUS implication and application. If you have a Bible handy, that will make this much more useful. If you have 10 minutes, even better. I am also attaching this as a PDF so you can print it out and use. I recommend that because I think it a better experience.   image_imitation_icon_of_christ.pdf

I am deeply drawn to the reality of our being "made in the image of God." I hate what sin has done to the image in us. Broken, marred, disfigured, deformed . . . and in some cases, so badly, that is appears virtually eradicated. But more, I am drawn to the recreating, renewing, re-imaging work of Jesus as he restores us. He renews the beautiful image of God in us.

This theme is central to the Apostle Paul's understanding of the Christian life and of Christian growth. Take a few minutes and read: 2 Corinthians 3:17-18;  4:16;  Galatians 4:19;  Colossians 3:9-10. Paul understands that to be a follower of Jesus is TO BE WITH the one who is restoring the image of God in us.

Now, to this, another idea MUST be added. There is a solely, supernatural work of restoration that God alone is doing. However, as that is happening, we are asked to imitate God, to imitate Jesus.  Read Ephesians 4:32 - 5:2;  Philippians 2:5; (and then read Philippians 2:12-13 where Paul describes the partnership of the sovereign  God and his faithful followers as they "work out their salvation").

As the recreative work of God continues, and as the imitative work of the God-followers continues - we begin to reflect to the world the inner transformation occurring within. As we are in union with the God who is light, and His Son who is the light of the world, their light grows within us. And we are told to "let our light shine." The light is not our own light, but the light of Christ within us. So I want to add another "I" Word.

We become ICONS. The word comes from the Greek - "eikon" which is used by Paul in his letters. It is usually translated image. We become Icon/Images that bear, reflect and project to the world - Jesus. His truth, his life, his light, his holiness, his beauty, his love, his glory . . . all that he is, is to be recreated in us and seen in us.

It is fair to say that the world should look at us and as they look they "see Jesus."

Paul clarifies this in 1 Thessalonians 1:6 when he says to them, "You became imitators of us and of the Lord." Paul dares to place himself (and his team) as image bearers who were worthy of being "imitated" because they themselves were imitating, reflecting Jesus. 

Are you "getting this?"

People are to see Jesus when they see us. Our lives are to so thoroughly PATTERN / MODEL / IMITATE / IMAGE / ICON Jesus, that to see us is to accurately see Jesus.

Paul presents his own life as a model and standard for the followers of Jesus (see Philippians 3:17 for more on that). We are to do the same.

I think the deepest need is for Christian leaders to be Icons / Images / Imitators of Christ, for the well being of those who follow them and then for the missional purposes of God in the world.

  • This is why the ministry of spiritual formation of leaders is central to LCI.
  • This is why the equipping of leaders to become spiritual directors and architects of communities of formation is central to our mission.

The great need of the world is still to "see Jesus" ("we would like to see Jesus," John 12:21).

How beautiful to think that when the world looks at us, they see the beautiful God that Jesus loved and worshipped, and they realize we too "had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). They are drawn to Jesus the Hope of the World as they see us. 

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International