This week finds Norma Jean and me in Nashville, Tennessee, where I’m preaching in a meeting for the Kemper Heights church. We’ve been here many times before, so it’s enjoyable to return and see many friends we’ve known from years ago.
Yesterday morning I presented a lesson entitled “Becoming Like Christ.” My study took me to this passage in Romans 8:29.
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
When I think of the word “conformed,” as most Bible students probably do, I think of something negative. Of the Biblical warning, “be not conformed to this world (Rom. 12:2). Yet, in this text being conformed is a good thing.
Henry Thayer says “Conformed” means “having the same form as another.” The text says our conformity must be like “the image” of Christ. So, as A. T. Robertson correctly concludes it “is an inward and not a mere superficial conformity.”
The CEV translates this expression to “become like His own Son.”
Other Bible passages call for us to be conformed to the character of Christ.
“But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior” (1 Pet. 1;15).
“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps (1 Pet 2:21).
However, being conformed to Christ is not easy. It’s challenging. Demanding. And often difficult.
Our fleshly nature screams for us do our own thing. To please ourselves. And to do what seems right in our own eyes. The world tells us that we can be whatever we want to be. Our culture advises that we must look out for #1.
Yet, God’s counsel is totally different. It denies our carnal impulses And defies pop culture. He calls for us to deny ourselves. Be set apart from the world. And develop the disciplines of self-sacrifice, self-control, and self-restraint.
Being conformed to Christ is to think like Him. To have his heart. To feel as He felt. And to act as he acted. This means to grow spiritually. To focus on the Father’s will. And to be governed by the spirit instead of the flesh.
Being like Christ improves our relationships. Allows us to give others “the benefit of the doubt.” To be charitable. Kind. Compassionate. Forgiving. And loving.
Think about how being conformed to Christ would make our homes happier. Our neighborhoods safer. Our culture kinder. Our interactions, even people with a prickly personality, less confrontational.
Being conformed to Christ would improve our attitude toward political leaders. Government officials. Laws we don’t like. And even paying our taxes. “Render unto Caesar” would become less of a burden and more of a blessing.
Being conformed to Christ corrects misunderstandings between parents and children. Help husbands and wives fulfill the God-given roles. And lead young people to lives of holiness and godliness.
Church business meetings would even be better when every man is conformed to Christ. No rancor. No discord. No ugly attitudes. Gentle and humble attitudes would prevail.
And then there’s social media. Consider how conforming to the image of Christ would impact our posts? Our reaction to disagreements? Our impulse to hurl a sarcastic quip or pejorative slur?
Being conformed to Christ is a never-ending lifetime challenge. It’s a process. And we’re all a work in progress.
It’s not easy. But the rewards are out of this world.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman