As we return to our reflections on God’s constant challenge to us to change, I am reminded that one of the things we sensed was that God is calling us to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to worship him together, with more of an expectation that we will see him at work amongst us.
It is part of God’s work of restoring his image in us, which we looked at last week. We remain ‘works in progress’ until the day we die, but that does not mean that we should give up! Every time we become a little more patient, or show a little kindness or self-control – or any of the other attributes that reflect something of God’s character and love – we introduce a sign of God’s kingdom to the world around us, and we participate in God’s Gospel mission of bringing his hope and love to broken lives.
One of my readings this week drew my attention to the words of the writer Joni Eareckson Tada, who has been confined to a wheelchair for nearly fifty years, since the age of seventeen. Contemplating the promise of 1 John 3:2, that ‘…when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,’ she sees the Christian hope of the day when God’s image is completely restored in us in every way. She says: ‘I can’t wait to be clothed in righteousness, without a trace of sin. True, it’ll be wonderful to stand, stretch, and reach to the sky, but it’ll be more wonderful to offer praise that’s pure. I won’t be crippled by distractions, disabled by insincerity. I won’t be handicapped by half-heartedness. My heart will join with others and bubble over with effervescent adoration. We’ll finally be able to fellowship fully with the Father and the Son. For me, this will be the best part of heaven.’
It is a hope that we can share with Joni. But, together with her, we can get a foretaste of that same hope in this life, as God continues the daily work of restoring his image in us. With his help, we can offer praise that is more pure, less distracted, more sincere and more whole-hearted than it was last week or last year. Let’s allow that to be a significant part of the change that God works in us this year.
With my love and prayers