Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. I John 3:2
This week in chapel our preacher was relating his enthusiasm for the New Year and his plans for a fresh start. To begin with, he decided he was going to get to work early. On Monday morning he walked out the door at 7:30 fully motivated only to realize that he had forgotten to shave. When he went inside and admitted his oversight, his wife replied that, although this might be a new year, he was still the same person.
And that’s our problem, isn’t it? We have any number of wonderful intentions, but we find over and over again that we’re still the same person. We keep trying, and we wind up with Paul’s lament: “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18, 19).
But Paul doesn’t leave us there. He writes in his letter to the Philippians that he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (1:6). If God initiated his work in us by his Holy Spirit, he will continue it, not abruptly abandon us because he’s run out of patience or we’re not yet perfect. Then in Philippians 2:13 we’re encouraged that God works in [us] to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. God himself sets out to mold and shape us after his plan for our lives while strengthening us to become like Jesus.
Going back to Romans, in the narrative of chapter 8, after Paul has bemoaned the struggle with his human nature, he announces that because of Jesus, There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (verse 1). The whole eighth chapter of Romans is full of God’s promises of what he will do in and through us when we take up residence in him.
The first verse cited above (I John 3:2) refers to resurrection and end times. But I think we can apply it to our everyday life with Christ. After all, he is the Creator Christ who was in the beginning (John 1:1), and we are new creatures in him (II Cor. 5:17). Every single day we can experience his transforming power as we realize the changes his Spirit is affecting in us (II Cor. 3:18).
Instead of being discouraged that we’re not yet everything we want to be, we must remember that it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him (I John 3:2). Every single day…more like Jesus.
Father, make us like Jesus. Thank you that you daily give us opportunities to grow into his likeness. Have your way. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.