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What is the Image of Christ?

The image of Christ
As Christians, we are called to grow into the image of Christ. But what is the image of Christ? How do we know that we are growing into the image of Christ? Is there a way to evaluate our progress month after month? It’s hard to hit a target that is not well defined. How do we know to specifically pray so that God can help us grow into the image of Christ? Spiritual growth is not something that happens spontaneously or automatically. We need vision, intentionality, and a method to attain spiritual maturity. The Bible gives us our vision—picture of a desirable future, what we can become as disciples. Everyone, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40 ESV). Our vision is the image of Christ in the kingdom of Christ.

Growing into the image of Christ is all about character development, not changing your personality or physical traits. Developing the image of Christ is developing a Christ-like character that gives us the heart, motivations, thoughts, words, and the deeds that are commensurate with who Christ is. Having the character or attributes of Christ is what the Bible means when it talks about growing into the image of Christ. The heart of discipleship, therefore, is character training because Christlikeness is having Christ’s character or attributes. This character development is built on right believing and is proven by right deeds. “Right believing leads to right living” when right believing leads to the development of the right character. As such, inward growth leads to outward fruits; inward transformation leads to outward transformation.

God is concerned about your character. Character determines assignment.” – Henry Blackaby

Above is a list of 21 essential attributes of Christ that I believe serve as a representation of the image of Christ—something tangible that can help us on our journey toward developing Christ-like character. More than that, these attributes allow us to measure our growth. For example, we can ask ourselves: How are we doing in our prayer lives? Love for Christ? Accountability? Innovation? Servanthood? We can go through all the twenty-one essential attributes and check ourselves to see how we are doing. Are we growing in each one of them month after month? Is our prayer life today better than it was last month? Are we being led by the Holy Spirit now more than we were six months ago? Because the acrostic is so easy to remember, we can easily and quickly go through these essential attributes in our minds, examine ourselves, test our faith to see that it is alive and growing.

Some important things to note:

First, it’s all about love. True Christianity is all about love.

Second, we cannot achieve any of these attributes by strong willpower and effort. The flesh cannot achieve anything that is spiritual. We must rely utterly on the Holy Spirit and through faith in him (and none in ourselves) allow Him to work these fruits and gifts in us.

Thirdly, we are helpless without the Holy Spirit when it comes to doing anything good; developing the character of Christ cannot be done by us. We must depend on the Holy Spirit to form that character in us.

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5 Comments

  1. How is your organization helping foster care victims after they are out of the faster care system, to stand on their own?

    • Hello David,
      Thanks for your question. It is a loaded question. We don’t view our foster care children as victims. We put them in families that love them as their own biological children. We believe that God knows best why they don’t have biological parents and loves them the same. In God’s sight, they are not victims or disadvantaged. They just have a family that came about a little differently.

      Our goal is to put children in healthy families so that they can grow up as normally as possible. As these children grow up, going to school or learning a vocational skill set, they remain as part of their foster families. In Cameroon, where we work, the concept of foster care doesn’t exist as it does in the U.S. or the west. If you take a child to live with, the moral and ethical thing is to treat them like your own. They call they parents mum and dad and the parents address them as children. They face the same challenges that other high school graduates in their countries face. Many of these countries have unemployment rates of over 50%. Helping an orphan grow-up well doesn’t mean guaranteeing a job for them in the future. However, we provide a lot of advice that if they choose to take will make success very attainable.

  2. This is great, and more tham encouragement, thanks

    • I have always had a passion to help orphans and widows. I visit widows now and have worked with children most of my career. Since the first week I was saved, I could see myself working with orphans. I did my Senior thesis paper on the best type of placement was best for a child in the system and had a foster daughter myself. I have always wanted to make a difference in the lives of children through a orphanage type setting.
      I am interested in knowing how to start one!

      • Hello Rose,
        Thank you for sharing. We would love to show you how to start an orphanage. However, as you would expect, it’s not something that can be done in an email or phone conversation. If I had an hour with you, it would be enough. If you really feel called to serve orphans, I encourage you to invest the time to learn. Austin Bible Institute was founded for that very purpose, to equip people who want to go into orphan care. I teach there.

        I hope you understand how impossible it is to help a person start an orphanage through a blog post. It takes more than having the legal paper work to run a safe and effective orphanage. It takes training etc.
        Thanks again for your interest in caring for orphans!