Shaping Us Into the Image of Christ
The late Eugene H. Peterson is perhaps best known for his paraphrase of the Bible titled ‘The Message’. While ‘The Message’ has provided me with some thought provoking and soul stirring reflections over the years lately I’ve been reading and reflecting on letters written by Eugene to his son Eric, also a Presbyterian pastor. These letters center around the life of the pastor, a vocation Eugene and Eric share (and one also shared by Drew, Eric’s son and Eugene’s grandson). One letter struck me in particular as Eugene reflected on the formation of his life and the integration of the various parts of life into a whole.
In his reflection Eugene reminded me of the long term, even life long, nature of formation, both formation as a Christian and as a human person. It's easy to forget (at least it can be for me) that we are continually being formed as people and as disciples of Jesus. There is no graduation date or ceremony of completion in this thing we call life, at least not on this side of eternity.
Our life, and with it our sanctification, regularly offers opportunities (new and familiar) to be whole and holy people. Each time, each moment shaping who we are and how we live. Our task then is to regularly recognize and accept the invitation to continued self formation. How is the Holy Spirit working in our life in this moment to shape us ever more into the image of Christ?
This is a question we can never stop asking ourselves as we continue this life of discipleship. No part of life is too small or inconsequential to be used by God in our formation and sanctification. An interaction with the checkout clerk at the store, the chopping of vegetables as we make dinner, or the way we greet a loved one as they come through the door. Each of these situations is an opportunity for God to shape us into more whole and holy people.
May we all be mindful of the ways the Spirit is using right here and right now to shape us and may we accept the life long invitation to be formed by God into the image of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Grace and Peace to you,
But now, Lord, you are our father.
We are the clay, and you are our potter.
All of us are the work of your hand. -Isaiah 64:8
1. Letters to a Young Pastor: Timothy Conversations Between Father and Son, by Eric Peterson and Eugene Peterson