The work of Christ has direct bearing upon humanity’s image problem. In the resurrection, God inaugurated an end-time renewal of the world, providing liberation from the seduction of self and the worship of cultural icons. In Christ, the Church emanates divine grace and truth, which is our vocation.
We would do well to consider the kind of Christian image that we are projecting. Intentionally or not, we reveal something; does our image reflect Christ, or is it a semi-religious version of society? Are we an angled mirror postured beneath the Lord or a vanity mirror standing at attention before the world? The former is captive to the liberating rule of Christ and mediates divine truth. The latter masquerades as freedom and flaunts the ephemeral whims of self.
We can improve our reflection of Christ by observing a four-fold routine that entails reading, reflection, prayer, and witness. Reading is the thoughtful study of Scripture that seeks to grasp its truth. Reflection considers how society displays or lacks this truth. Prayer is turning one’s volition toward the God of Truth. Witness reflects truth into the world. You might say reading ingests the fruit; reflection chews it; prayer savors it; witness extends its nourishment to neighbors. Further still, reading pursues the sweetness; reflection understands it; prayer asks for it; witness shares it.
As we read Scripture, it is like placing a freshly picked grape into the mouth. The sweetness of divine revelation opens ours eyes to recognize our identity in Christ. Paul says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18) In the background of this text is Moses. When Moses spoke with God in the Tent of Meeting, his face was physically transformed. In time, a shining face became a symbol of renewal in the faith of Israel: “The LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Num. 6:25-26)
According to Paul, Israel’s awaited hope of renewal was properly fulfilled in Jesus. When we encounter Christ in his Word, the idolatry of self and the surrounding culture loses its seductive appeal.