little picture of Christ!
(J. R. Miller, "Transformed by Beholding" 1912)
No sooner do we begin to behold the lovely face of Christ, which looks out at us from the gospel chapters, than a great hope springs up in our hearts. We can become like Jesus! Indeed, if we are God's children, we shall become like Him. We are foreordained to be conformed to His image. It matters not, how faintly the divine beauty glimmers now in our soiled and imperfect lives—some day we shall be like Him! As we struggle here with imperfections and infirmities, with scarcely one trace of Christlikeness yet apparent in our life, we still may say, when we catch glimpses of the glorious loveliness of Christ, "Some day I shall be like that!" "For those He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son!" Romans 8:29. "We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2.
But how may we now grow into the Christlikeness of Christ? Not merely by our own strugglings and strivings. We cannot make ourselves Christlike by any efforts of our own. Nothing less than a divine power is sufficient to produce this transformation in us.
The Scripture describes the process. "Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the image of the glory." That is, we are to find the likeness of Christ, and are to look upon it and ponder it, gazing intently and lovingly upon it—and as we gaze we are transformed and grow like Christ!
It is not merely a brief glance now and then that is here implied, not the turning of the eye toward him for a few hurried moments in the early morning or in the late evening—but a constant, loving and reverent beholding of Him through days and years, until His image burns itself upon the soul. If we thus train our heart's eyes to look at Christ, we shall be transformed into His image.
"Beholding we are changed." The verb is passive. We do not produce the change. The marble can never carve itself into the lovely figure which floats in the artist's mind—the transformation must be wrought with patience, by the sculptor's own hands. Just so—we cannot change ourselves into the image of Christ's glory. The work is wrought in us by the Holy Spirit. We simply look upon the image of the Christ, and His blessed light streams in upon us and prints its own radiant glory upon our hearts!
We have nothing to do, but to keep our eyes fixed upon Christ's beauty (as the flowers hold up their faces toward the sun,) and the transformation is divinely wrought in us. It is not wrought instantaneously. At first there are but dimmest glimmerings of the likeness of Christ. We cannot in a single day learn all the long, hard lessons of patience, meekness, unselfishness, humility, joy and peace. Little by little the change is wrought, and the beauty comes out as we continue to gaze upon Christ. Little by little the glory flows into our lives from the radiant face of the Master—and flows out again through our dull lives, transforming them!
If we continue ever beholding the glory, gazing upon it—we shall be mirrors, reflecting Him into whose face we gaze! Then those who look upon our lives will see in us—a dim image at least—a little picture of Christ!