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Holiness: A Family Resemblance

How much do you resemble your Heavenly Father? When people look at you, can they see a glimpse of Jesus Christ? Is your life one of holiness?

To Be Like Jesus

General John Gowans wrote:

To be like Jesus!
This hope possesses me,
In every thought and deed,
This is my aim, my creed;
To be like Jesus!
This hope possesses me,
His Spirit helping me,
Like him I’ll be.

John Gowans (1934-2012)
© The General of The Salvation Army.

Used By Permission. CCL Licence No. 30158
Copied from The Song Book of The Salvation Army
Song Number 328

The aim of every Christian is to be like Jesus, to have God’s family resemblance. But that seems impossible. The world wants us to conform to its standards, but God says, Be holy as I am holy. How can we ever expect to live up to that? How can we live a life of holiness?

Bought at a Price

The answer is redemption. In Early Christian Letters for Everyone, Tom Wright tells the following story:

John went into a junk-shop the other day, in a little town not far from here. He was looking for something in particular, and after wandering around for a while he thought he saw just the thing. It was a bowl, about eight inches across. Someone had obviously used it for flowers at some stage, and it was still dirty with soil and the remains of a few leaves. It looked, too, as though it had a crack running through one side. The owner of the shop had probably not bothered about it, since it was almost entirely covered up with a pile of other old stuff, books, bottles, and goodness knows what else.

John carefully fished the bowl out and, disguising his pleasure, went and bought it at the till. Then, taking it home, he set about cleaning it. He took care. He had spotted (as the shop-owner obviously hadn’t) that it was in fact a fine piece of porcelain. He could repair the crack, but equally importantly he could gradually get the dirt and soil out of its pattern and bring it up as good as new. Then, when it was done, he put it in a place of honour, where it was to hold three gorgeous ornamental eggs and show them off to perfect effect. Just what he had wanted.

Now supposing the original owner of the bowl had turned up the next day at the junk shop and had asked for his bowl back, since he wanted to use it again to hold flowers. The shop-owner might direct him to John; but John, perfectly properly, would say that the bowl was no longer available. Not only had he bought it, but he had cleaned it inside and out and given it a whole new use, for which it was really suited. It would be an insult to it, as well as an injustice, to use it simply to hold a few flowers.

We are like that bowl. We have been bought back by God, at a price. He has rescued us from our “futile ways” (1 Peter 1:18) by paying the ultimate sacrifice for us: the death of his Son, Jesus Christ. His death has redeemed us.

Holiness: Living Up to the Family Standards

It is this good news that frees us to live up to God’s family standards and to resemble him. It is Christ’s redemption that gives us both the power and the motivation to model our behaviour on the holiness of God. So what similarity do you have to your (heavenly) parent?

You can listen to the Bible Message this post is based on here.

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