The Daily Liturgy of The Church has immersed us in the letter of St. Paul to The Early Church in Ephesus over the past week. His signature theme, Be imitators of God, is most obvious in this letter.
Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Salvation History encapsulates God’s one desire, to restore his identity in us whom he created in his image. I’ve been told that I look just like my father. I’m always glad to hear that because my father has aged well, and at 92 years, his vibrance still shines, so I like to think that’s what people notice about my 62 years. One can hope.
Looks are only skin deep, but our heavenly Father’s beauty is from the inside out! So how can we look just like our heavenly Father? It begins by remembering who we are and what we are to be about as the beloved children of our Creator God. St. Paul writes in the letter to The Early Church in Corinth:
There is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and for whom we exist, and one LORD, Jesus Christ, through him all things are and through whom we exist.
I Corinthians 8:6
The God of The Cosmos is the God of the Gospels with skin on, Jesus Christ! He is the very Word of God, made flesh so that we may be restored to God through him. How does that happen? As we contemplate the gospels, we observe God through Jesus, unsullied by sin; it follows that we learn the way back to our Heavenly Father as we accept the truth of who Jesus Christ is. The disciple John begins his account of the life of Christ with these words:
In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him, not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it… And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
The Gospel according to St. John 1:1-5;14
Jesus, the very Word of God, made flesh mirrors before us God’s nature. Jesus answers the purpose of “God made flesh” with his disciples. (The entire chapter of St. John 14 is a profound discourse and is worth your time)
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him… If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”
The Gospel according to St. John 14: 6-7; 15-17
We know from the record of the Acts of the Apostles that the Advocate that Jesus promised descended from God as his Holy Spirit. Sometimes we don’t fully comprehend how his Spirit can transform our natures into God’s nature. We can’t understand the ways and means of this God’s amazing grace; faith and trust are required.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting… All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…
The Book of the Acts of the Apostles 2: 1,2,4a
The Breath of God’s holy Spirit fills us, permeating our very being. As we allow God’s Holy Spirit to inspire us, he transforms our very nature to look just like our Father! The letters to the Early Church are so important in our spiritual formation–they are the owner’s manuals, so to speak, on how to be inspired. St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians to live according to Christ’s example so that they may be inspired (given breath) to live in a manner worthy of their identity as God’s beloved children. The more we breathe in God’s Word to us, the more we breathe out the essence of his nature, revealed in Christ. Christ’s humility, gentleness, and patience (Ephesians 4:2) in exchange for our pride. Christ’s kindness, compassion, and forbearance (Ephesians 4:32) in exchange for anger. Christ’s strength and power (Ephesians 6:10) in exchange for our fear.
Triune God, we desire to look just like you! Breathe into us your very nature so that we may be transformed–mind, body, and soul–into your likeness!
In the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, it is now, and evershall be, world without end.