Have you had the experience in which you have this image of yourself, an idea of how you look, and then you pass by a mirror only to realize you don’t really look that way (I’m always shocked to realize I don’t really have that much hair anymore)? As Christians we are to live according to Christ, it is his image that we are to represent. Many of us probably think that while not perfect, we’re doing a pretty good job of living a Christlike life. And then we take a good hard look at ourselves in the spiritual mirror and realize that too often the image we project is not that of Christ. James tells us in James 1:22- 24 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
What does it mean for us to live the image of Christ? First of all this isn’t some makeup we put on to cover up the ugly underneath, it is who we truly are in Christ. Paul told the Galatian church “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 We are to be living the life that is ours to live. And since Christ is the one living in me, his thoughts, values and attitudes are to be mine, and to guide me, in other words we are to have the mind of Christ. I need to be willing to check my ideas against what I see in Christ as revealed in scripture. There are many things done by people in the name of Christ that I am sure Christ wouldn’t do. Also there are many things Christ did while on this earth that I don’t see the church today as involved in. All of this comes from the fact that not only are we to have the mind of Christ, but we must have his heart as well.
There is a lot of talk out there today about what God hates, and by extension Christ and therefore what we should hate. Many will quote I John 2:15, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” If I am to have the heart and mind of Christ then, to be in his image, I need to hate the world. Is that what John means here, after all John is also the one who recorded the words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. . .” John 3:16. Many would have us to believe that hating what God hates gives us the right to hate anyone who doesn’t fall into our view of a Christian or who we would call the “world”. John goes on in I John to describe what he means there by hating the world. “For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.” It is the mindset, the attitudes and values of the world that we are to hate. When the church values power more than it does mercy and grace we are reflecting the image of the world, not Christ. For the church and individual Christians to reflect the image of Christ we must honestly look into God’s mirror and see our heart, mind and actions in his image, not the image we want to see.