With Thanksgiving approaching this week, and several dreary months of winter to follow, I gave a sermon this weekend on a subject that should literally compel us to be very thankful, AND remind us of one of the most encouraging themes of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ as well. I intend to present this sermon in a 3-part series of weekly blogs.
Today, I’d like to start out with a passage of scripture that it’s very easy to be inspired by, for a number of reasons. There’s at least three topics we could write about just in verse one. But today, I’d like to focus on a phrase in verse two.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:1-2)
It’s that last phrase I want to focus on “we shall be like Him.” What will it be like … to BE LIKE Him?
A Wonderful Future
1 John 3 isn’t the only scripture we could go to that hints at this wonderful future for those who commit themselves to following His example to the end.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Pet. 1:3-5)
And in this glorious future, we’re not going to be weak, feeble human beings anymore. We’re going to be something else, something “like Him.”
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Rom. 8:19-23)
If I could personally come up with one word to describe this inner groaning while “waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body,” it would be “frustration.” God needs to know the real desires of our hearts, and what better way to assess that than to subject us to a world spiraling towards self-destruction, where we are virtually powerless to do anything against the evils that are causing it all?
For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 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. (Rom. 8:24-29)
Faithful in Little
In Luke 16:10, Christ reminds us, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much.” All of us have at least a small sphere of influence and responsibility in life, even if it’s just with friends and family. In the words of a quote I remember from the TV show Kung Fu, “Grasshopper … To do good anywhere is to do good everywhere.” Once we are “like Him,” we’ll have virtually limitless power to transform lives. To do good, and not like the “do gooders” of today, where they often cause more harm than good.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)
We could read on through this chapter and describe the, at times, painful transformation of putting “to death your members which are on the earth” and being transformed into “the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Col. 3:5, 10). We don’t just become “like Him” with no effort.
And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. (1 Cor 15:49)
So 1 John 3:2 isn’t the only place we are told we will be like Him and be with Him, if we hold fast and stay faithful in the “little things.” In fact, it’s a promise reiterated numerous times in the Bible.
For every one of us, to even be able to contemplate the possibility of being “like Him” is something to be greatly thankful for. But I doubt it’s something any of us would even care about if God hadn’t given us this calling we have. The carnal mind – the old man – isn’t able to value the things of God. The new man with this expectation of becoming like Him can at least begin to comprehend what Jesus Christ spoke of in this verse, for example:
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. (John 14:12)
So how will your real life begin, the one where you are “like Him”?
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thes. 4:13-18)
This vision for the future really should be a comfort to us, as well as a great incentive to hang on no matter what. Actually being “like Him” is a glorious future to look forward to, and even being able to understand that is a great gift. So in this season of of rejoicing and Thanksgiving, what better question could we ask ourselves and meditate on during the cold winter months ahead than, “What does it mean, and what will it be like, to BE LIKE Him?”