Made Like Him – Colossians 1
“His becoming what we are enables us to become what He is.” — Irenaeus
I didn’t grow up in a church tradition that placed much emphasis on the Easter season. While Jesus’ birth merited a full six weeks of anticipation and busyness (and an additional week to come down from our sugar-cookie induced highs), the time surrounding His death and resurrection were strangely quiet. Perhaps it was due to the fluctuation of the calendar and never being quite sure when Easter would fall (was it early or late this year?); or perhaps it was because Jesus’ atonement for our sins was already an ever-present theme in our worship. But for whatever reason, Easter never seemed to require much more than a new dress and a basket of candy.
So I’ve been encouraged lately to see many of us embracing a more robust celebration of Easter as adults. Many of us are choosing to participate in Lent, dedicating that forty day period to prayer, repentance, and self-denial. Then during Holy Week, we celebrate Maundy Thursday and Good Friday with special services and the Stations of the Cross. And while I love the fuller emphasis on the Easter season (I myself have been known to print off Holy Week coloring sheets for my children and make hot cross buns), I think it’s vital that we don’t miss the big picture. While Lent and Holy Week teach us the miserable state of life apart from Christ, Easter morning teaches us the power of new life in Christ.
This theme of new life in Christ is central to the book of Colossians. In chapter 1, Paul introduces Jesus as the Creator of all things:
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (vs. 15-17)
That phrase—“the image of the invisible God”—reminds us of another phrase. In Genesis 1, the Scripture teaches us that when God first made man and woman, He made them in the “image of God.” He made them to reflect His nature, to live as He lives. This means that our core identity as human beings is not one of sinful brokenness but of glory and majesty. But you know the story. Those first image bearers turned traitor and in that moment, the entire creation fell under a curse. A curse that we groan under today. A curse that we often embrace for ourselves. A curse that can only be broken by the One who first made us in His image.
But Colossians continues:
“For in [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (verses 18-19)
This is what we celebrate on Good Friday. When we commemorate Jesus’ death, we commemorate the truth that the perfect Image Bearer died in our place in order to reconcile us to God. But it didn’t end there. Jesus is also “the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. (v.18)”
To co-opt C. S. Lewis, the “deeper magic” of Easter is not simply that Christ suffered under the curse but that He overcame the curse entirely! When He emerged from the tomb, He proved that His creation was not subject to death because her Creator was not subject to death. When He emerged from the tomb, He proved that there was nothing stronger, nothing more powerful, nothing greater than the One who is Life Himself.
The One in whose image we are made.
And suddenly the words of Charles Wesley’s famous Easter anthem make sense: “Made like Him, like Him we rise. Alleluia!” The beauty of the Easter is that the God, who at that first dawn cried out “Let there be light!” once again shines light into our darkness in the face of His Son. The beauty of Easter is that the God, who stooped down into the dust to form us in His image at creation, again stoops down into the mire of our lives to transform us into His image through Jesus Christ.
The beauty of Easter is that once more we can be made like Him.
Today’s post happens to coincide perfectly with some fabulous news from its author. We’re happy to help spread the word that Hannah Anderson’s first book, Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image releases tomorrow! To celebrate, Hannah’s publisher is giving away a new copy of Made for More to two of our PYP readers. Enter the drawing in two ways: 1) by “liking” our Facebook page and sharing today’s Made for More giveaway post, 2) by commenting at the end of this blog post. If you like/share AND comment, you get two entries. Winners will be determined in a random drawing on Wednesday, April 2. Deadline for entry is the end of the day (PST) on April 1. Have fun!
Hannah Anderson lives with her husband, Nathan, and their three young children in the haunting Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. As a pastor’s wife in a rural setting, no two days are ever the same which suits her short-attention span perfectly. Hannah is passionate about helping women discover their God-given identity as His image bearers and is the author of Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image (Moody, 2014). She also contributes to a variety of Christian publications, and you can find her on her blog, SometimesALight.com, and on Twitter @sometimesalight.