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And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

What do you think is the secret to becoming more and more like Jesus? Anyone enthralled by His love and grace wants to be like Him, but how? What would you tell a new follower?

A story by the early American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne titled, “The Great Stone Face”, has helped me understand a little better how we become like Jesus. Hawthorne begins his story with the little boy Ernest in a small New England village overlooked by a great rock formation called “The Great Stone Face”. Time and nature had sculpted a large rock which when seen from a distance looked like a man’s face. Village folklore long said that the prosperity and happiness of the village came from the great man watching over them. A prophecy arose foretelling of a child who would be born in the area who would grow up to look like the great stone face, a very wise and good man.

When Ernest’s mother first told him of the prophecy he clapped excitedly saying, “I do hope that I shall live long enough to see the great man!” From that moment, Ernest was charmed by the prophecy and happily passed his free hours just looking up at the great stone face looking down on them.

But Ernest’s childhood soon passed, then his youth and middle years, but the great man of the prophecy had not yet come. Still, Ernest did not give up his contemplation of the image of the great stone face; he continued to think about the wise and good man who would yet come.

Then one day it happened! One day villagers saw Ernest looking up at the great stone face and exclaimed, “He has come! He has come!” Indeed, it was Ernest who had grown to look like the great man he had loved for so long! He had become like the focus of his love and longing.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story of the great stone face helps me as I read and reflect on today’s scripture in which the apostle Paul tells how we become more and more like Jesus. He reveals that as we “contemplate the Lord’s glory” we are “transformed into his image.” Just like Ernest focusing his attention and longing on the great man to come, becoming like him, so we become like Jesus.

It is a marvelous Greek word that Paul uses translated “transformed.” It is the word metamorphoo, from which we derive “metamorphosis”, describing a caterpillar becoming a butterfly and a tadpole emerging a frog. It is miraculous! Scientists can assign a name to it, but cannot understand or explain how the transformation occurs.

So how do we become like Jesus? Only the Holy Spirit can make us like Him; today’s scripture says that our transformation comes “from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” And the Spirit does this in us “with ever increasing glory.” Our part is to keep our eyes on Jesus, our lives centered on Him. It is “looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

When tempted to focus on our unfaithfulness, we decide to focus instead on Jesus who is always faithful to us.  When tempted to focus on our sinfulness, we decide to focus on Jesus, the righteous one, who has forever put us right with God. When tempted to worry about our future and what will happen to us, we decide to focus on Jesus who promises to always be with us, to strengthen and help us.

The Christian life is, after all, about Christ, not us.  So, we focus on doing those things that help us center on Him, like spending time with Him in His Word, in prayer, and being with others who also love and center their lives on Him. We transfer the full weight of our lives from us onto Him!

Try as we may, we can never make ourselves like Jesus, but we can make Jesus the center and the focus of our lives.  And as we do that, God’s Word promises us that we are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

What an exciting and freeing way to go about life!

A fellow traveler,

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