Themes of Historical Christianity: Conforming

As I went shopping today, I enjoyed my usual pastime of people watching.  People are so fascinating.  Today was a good day to watch how different people dress.  This morning, it was a bit cool, but by afternoon it was warm enough so that some people were enjoying the weather and wearing shorts.  As I survey the shoppers, I see women who dress in blue jeans and an old T-shirt, women who dress in classy matching outfits, and women who seem to enjoy showing as much cleavage as possible.  I see many women in comfortable clothes, and some women in clothes that look very uncomfortable.   Some women haven’t even combed their hair, and other wear makeup and every hair is in its proper place. 

I am reminded that clothes reflect our personalities.  Every parent of multiple children believes the same truth, that every person is born with a disposition and personality.  One brother may be rebellious from the moment he is conceived, and another brother may be mild mannered.  One sister may be gregarious, while another may be introverted.   Even parents of many children always say that no two children were born with the same personality, each is distinct.

False Christian religion is mostly about conformity. Mankind creates an ideal, and then twists the Bible to say what they want to get others to conform to that ideal.  In recent history, the ideal in many U.S. religious circles is based on the ideal of husband and wife, with children, living in a home in the suburbs.  Much “Christian” teaching involves telling people how to be a better person within this ideal.  A motto of one church in our town is “Building Faith and Family”, a sermon series at another church is “Celebrating Families”.  Another ideal is that every person must have a wonderful plan for life.   One sermon series in my town is “Building a Life Worth Living”.   Other ideals revolve around culture.  Several churches rant against modern culture, and others embrace modern culture.     Each group mocks those from the other groups.

But, if “True Christianity” is not about being conformed to an image created by man, but being conformed into the image of God the Son, what does that mean?  As man, Jesus himself had a personality.  Does that mean we should find the personality of Christ on this Earth and be conformed to that personality?  I don’t think so, because it seems we do not have extensive insight into his human personality.   Also, the world would most certainly be a boring (and perhaps non functioning) place if we all had the same personality.  Does being formed into the image of Christ mean we should miraculously raise the dead and heal the sick?  Some in Christianity believe that, but I see very little real evidence of it happening among Christians.  Does being formed into the image of Christ mean having a family and 2 kids?  It couldn’t be that because Jesus himself didn’t have a family of his own.

I now believe we are so corrupted in our own nature and in the world’s culture, that we have difficulty even seeing the image of Christ.   Our ideals are so impacted by what we have experienced in our life and world that we can no longer see the image of Christ.  Just as a grown woman may have difficulty understanding the concept of God the Father because of  her own Father’s imperfections, perhaps we can not see the image of Christ due to our life experiences.  If we are so corrupted that we cannot see the image of Christ, how can we ever be transformed into his image? 

 Jesus said “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:17 ESV). Does that mean that we can only see the true image of Christ as a child, without the corruption of life’s experiences?  Can we trust the image of Christ that churches have presented to us, or is that image so corrupted as to be of no use? As grown adults, who have experienced the corruption of life, how can we see the true image of Christ?

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About Allen Krell

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One Response to Themes of Historical Christianity: Conforming

  1. Those are good questions! The early church fathers wrote quite a bit about the image of God. One common thread is that the image is something irreducible, something man cannot erase inspite of sin and corruption. It is what our true nature is, it is as such God has created us. You see this theme also in their teaching on salvation which is understood as a return to and restoration of the image of God, which can be experienced even now. This all to say that our aim is not find out what this image is and then to imitate it, but rather to participate in the divine life of God himself. This participation is a living communion that changes our very being, restoring the image of God to us for which we were created to enjoy forever with Him.

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