Beholding Him - We Reflect His Image

The rapidly westering sun sank beyond the hills, gilding the sky in brilliant pinks and gold. As the shadows of evening crept across the valley below, the sun's fading colors gave way to the purple shadows of evening. In the lengthening shadows, the lights of the villages began to sparkle, small spots of light in the gathering darkness.

The lights in one dwelling shining more brightly than the rest revealed that preparations were underway for a festive scene. The light streaming from the openings and an expectant company gathered nearby, indicated that a marriage procession was expected to appear soon.  It was this scene that provided the background for one of Christ's last and most memorable parables.

reflection of trees in lake

As the parable unfolds, it is clear that it is not the story of a world lost in sin and vice, willingly ignorant of the times while the hours of probationary time are rapidly slipping away, but rather the story of those who believe in and are waiting in eager anticipation the coming of the Bridegroom. It is a story of expectancy and of anticipated happiness but one that for many ends in the depths of despair and disappointment.

Earlier in His ministry, Jesus told another parable that describes this class of people. You will find it in Matthew 13:3–9. In this parable, Jesus told of a sower who went out to sow; and as he sowed, the seed fell on four different types of ground. The five foolish virgins find their counterpart in one of these types of soil; that of the stony-ground hearers. Those who are represented by the stony-ground received the word with readiness of mind. The problem is that they fail to assimilate its principles. Its influence was not abiding.

Clearly, the five foolish virgins have a regard for the truth. Moreover, they are attracted to and mingle with those who believe and advocate Bible truth. However, we see that in the final analysis, a vital element is missing from their experience. Clearly, it is not enough for us go give an assent to Bible truth, as important as that may be.

In writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul points out that one of the signs of the last days is that of a people professing to be Bible believing Christians, but who are missing a vital principle in their experience. "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves . . . having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." 2 Timothy 3:1-5

That which we love most becomes our god. One of the signs of the last days is a religion that professes godliness while in reality is a form of self-worship, never having experienced the power that transforms the life. It is not enough for us to profess a regard for Bible truth if we do not live that truth in our daily life. If that truth has not had a sanctifying influence on our life, it is of no value to us.

The Spirit works upon a man's heart, according to his desire and consent, implanting in him a new nature; but the class represented by the foolish virgins have been content with a superficial work. They do not know God. They have not, through communion with Him, studied His character until their own character has been assimilated into the likeness of His. Instead of representing the beauty of Christ's likeness to those who know them, they have retained their deformities of character.

We find this class of people described in Ezekiel 33:31. "And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness."

Idolatry appears to be a special hazard of religion against which an intellectual knowledge of truth is no certain protection. In Isaiah's time, the most enlightened people on the face of the earth were the people of Israel, and yet we read that the temple and its services had been perverted to support a system of oppression that gripped the nation. We also see that the services—the form of religion, if you please—were still intact.

Near the close of His ministry, Jesus made a very strong statement. It was so strong that it cost Him the majority of His followers. He said, "Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; . . . For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him." John 6:53-56.

When first spoken, this was not a popular truth among Christ's professed disciples; and it is no more accepted today among those professing to hold to Bible truth than it was then. Today, however, we have found effective ways of distancing ourselves from it while professing to accept it. We speak lightly of Bible truth while in reality we have but a passing understanding of their real meaning, but rather substituting our thoughts and desires to stand in their place.

In the seventh century before Christ, the prophet Isaiah saw a paradoxical conjunction state conditions in the kingdom of Judah. The nation was sunk in corruption and oppression; bribery was rampant, and the legal system little more than a tool to take by forces anything of value. Economic crime and murder abounded, and government officials committed criminal acts. Yet with all this, the official religion of the nation, the temple worship of the Creator of the universe, flourished. People took part in the organized religion of the God whose laws they had come to despise.

reflection of trees in water

It is especially worthy of our notice that when Israel fell into idolatry, it did not openly renounce the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in order to bow before the pagan shrines. Rather the nation combined the old rituals with what it knew of the Canaanite religion. We can see this in the description of the religious revival under King Josiah in that the king commanded the priests to remove from the temple the vessels that had been introduced for the service of Baal and of the heavenly bodies. (2 Kings 23)

The scripture sets forth the comforting fact that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith.  However, for this to take place, we must contemplate Christ and ever cherish Him as our best and most honored friend, one that we would not on any account grieve or offend. This transformation cannot be brought about merely by an occasional reading of God’s Word. A superficial knowledge of its principles will do nothing to bring about meaningful and lasting character changes. This transformation will only take place when His words of instruction have been received, and have fully taken possession of us. It is only then that Jesus becomes to us an abiding presence, controlling our thoughts and actions. It is then that His Spirit and character, color everything, becoming the very texture of our entire being.  As we continue looking unto Jesus, we reflect his image to all around us.

The sun shines in the sky, and business continues today, just as it did yesterday. The changes that are taking place in our world, while shockingly evident, seen in the perspective of time, creep upon us day by day without arousing us from our contemplation of the present. Satan, knowing that his time is short, works with marvelous success to so arrange events that our thoughts are occupied with many other things—anything that will prevent us from measuring every aspect of our lives in relation to God's perfect standard. As in a trance, we are oblivious to our shortcomings and the realities of the unseen world, while the here and now are the focus of our interest.

Many, we read, will seek to enter in but will be unable to do so because they failed to strive. Luke 13: 24 May God help us each one to have a moment-by-moment awareness of the unseen and eternal realities, that in contemplating them, we will view every aspect of our life relative to the obtaining of the goal of eternal life.

If we gaze even for a moment upon the sun in its full glory, when we turn away our eyes, the image of the sun will appear in everything upon which we look. So it is when we behold Jesus; everything we look upon reflects his image, the Sun of Righteousness. His image is imprinted upon the soul, and is reflected in very aspect of our daily life, bringing our every thought into captivity to Him. (Hebrews 10:4–5)

As the mind dwells upon Christ, the character is molded after the divine likeness. The thoughts are become absorbed in contemplating His goodness, his love and thus he is in all our thoughts.  By beholding, we are conformed to the divine likeness of Christ and to all with whom we come in contact we reflect the bright beams of his righteousness. We have become transformed in character; for heart, soul, mind are lightened by the light of Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us.