How to Live the Bible — Restored to the Image of God

This is the one-hundred-ninth lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here. Mel is the author of […] The post How to Live the Bible — Restored to the Image of God appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.

How to Live the Bible — Restored to the Image of God
This is the one-hundred-ninth lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here. Mel is the author of the forthcoming A Chronicle of Grief: Finding Life After Traumatic Loss. See his newest message about world changing events now and in the book of Acts here. Art restoration is the attempt to return a work of art to its original or near-original appearance. The task of art restoration is difficult and controversial. Today’s art experts look back on the attempts in past generations to restore sculptures and paintings—including using hydrochloric acid to clean up Michelangelo’s David—as arbitrary preferences that may not restore the original form and ignore historical development. But there is perhaps no greater disaster in art restoration than the job 80-year-old Cecilia Giménez did on a 1930 painting of Jesus on a pillar in a church in Broja, Spain, in 2012. Meaning well, this amateur ended up imposing on the painting her own brushstrokes, ending up with a Jesus who looked like a pale-faced ape ringed in fuzzy hair and a half-beard with a crooked mouth and hollow eyes. It would have been taken for vandalism, if it were not known that the woman really thought she was improving the representation of Jesus. Even the highly professional and meticulous restoration of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, painstakingly carried out by restoration experts, is controversial. It seems to make sense that layers of grease and soot resulting from centuries of burning candles, when removed, would reveal the original image Michelangelo created. But the restoration process, in some experts’ opinions, has compromised areas of light and shadow in the frescos. Nevertheless, the restoration results are stunning. Thousands of visitors now get a better idea of why this unique place had such value when it was created. It may not be perfect, but we have a better view of what Michelangelo intended when he painted the image of Adam, and the image of Creator God, the image of Christ coming in judgment, and so much more. What does it mean for men and women to be restored to the image of God or, in the words of Romans 8:29, “to be conformed to the image”? The Greek word “conform” is summorphos from sum, “together,” and morphe, “form.” So we speak of trans-form-ation as essential change, form-ation as the incremental shaping of mind and personality, and con-form-ity as choosing to let one’s character imitate the contours of the character or values of someone else, whether it’s a parent, a teacher, a celebrity, or some other exemplar. Throughout the New Testament we find expressions of the “form” a human life can take. In an age where “image is everything,” whole currents of our culture focus on “form” in a physical or material sense. Billions of dollars are spent on body-building, weight-losing, skin-preserving, tummy-tucking, chin-shaping, face-lifting. But what about the shaping of the soul? Dignity is not restored by weight loss and body-building. It is a lifelong process of people choosing to live within the transforming power of the kingdom of God, of being “conformed to the image.” There is no problem in the human race that would not be remedied if men and women were conformed to the image of God and the image of God’s Son. Vice is twisted back into virtue. Greed returns to desire. Lust is restored to longing. Malice melts. Envy evaporates. Anger as violence is tamed to anger as indignation. And pride as arrogance is reformed into that good and wholesome pride that is constructively ambitious. ___________ Sign up to receive the free once-a-week email series, How to Live the Bible, by author and pastor Dr. Mel Lawrenz By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from Bible Gateway, a division of The Zondervan Corporation, 3900 Sparks Drive SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 USA, including commercial communications and messages from partners of Bible Gateway. You may unsubscribe from Bible Gateway’s emails at any time. If you have any questions, please review our Privacy Policy or email us at privacy@biblegateway.com. 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He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel is the author of 18 books, including How to Understand the Bible—A Simple Guide and Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay. The post How to Live the Bible — Restored to the Image of God appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.