Wouldn't we all like to know what our future state will be? We have this gnawing desire to know the future. As parents, we want to see what our kids will turn out to be like, dream about what accomplishments they undertake, and imagine them doing certain things or marrying certain individuals. As children, we imagine taking flight into the great unknown, discovering parts unknown to common man, or discovering some new invention which will set the world on fire with excitement. As believers, what do we imagine about our future state? Our imaginations often stop at what we can see in our mind's eye about what it is we can comprehend or believe about our children or ourselves. We often don't look beyond what we can "see" into the unknown realm of what is "promised" to those of us who have put our faith in Christ Jesus.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2 NIV)
First of all, John points out our future state includes seeing Christ. Today, I can only imagine what it would be like to actually be "face-to-face" with him. I can picture it, but even what I imagine is probably just a "made up" image of what it will be like to actually "see" him. When we begin to consider this, it probably doesn't seem too exciting, but in reality, what we "see" of Christ around us today is what we see of him in other "imperfect" people. We see the example of his love and grace, as it is revealed in their lives. Yet, we don't actually see him - we see the evidence of him in them! Now, this isn't a bad thing because this is what Christ had in mind as he told us to live as examples - letting his light shine through us to a dark world. I don't know about you, but if I really want to see the true color of something, I go outside into the sunlight - because there is nothing quite as revealing as the light of the sun. The same thing is true about the "son-light" - we may see all kinds of "hues" of light in each other, but there is nothing quite as awesome and revealing as the light of the Son.
Don't miss the point John wants us to see in this passage - this promise is not for those in the future, or those in the past. It is for us. We are the ones who shall see Christ - we are "counted" in the number of those who will become acquainted with his "face-to-face" appearance. Sometimes we want to undermine our own "standing" with Christ by discounting the work he has done in us which assures us of this ability to enjoy his presence in our lives. We want to imagine ourselves as not all that worthy of coming face-to-face with him, but the opposite is actually true. It is because Christ came face-to-face with us that we can enjoy and count on the privilege of being face-to-face with him!
The most amazing thing here is that we don't see Jesus today as we will see him tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that. Into eternity, our revelation of Christ becomes greater and greater until we come into a full revelation of his love, greatness, power, strength, grace, etc. Today, we only know each of these in part - tomorrow we will know a little more - into the future, we will still know each of these a little better - but into eternity, we shall have the full revelation.
What does this continual "revealing" of Christ do in us today? When we behold Christ long enough, we begin to see ourselves in a different light. There is something transformational in seeing Christ. The small revelation we have of him today added to the revelation we have of him from yesterday begins to provide some "transition" points in our lives. You see, we cannot see Christ as he is and not be transformed in the process. When we see the sacrificial and costly love of Christ, we cannot help but in awe that one would love us so much to pay such a terrific cost just to have us close to him. In a word, we begin to see him as he is and we begin to see ourselves as he sees us - as like him.
In examining this passage, there is something which we almost could gloss over - the word "shall". It is used twice. We shall see him as he is and we shall be like him. Now, before you already want to tell yourself a different story in your mind about why you will never be quite like him, let me tell you another story which you need to hold onto. When God says something SHALL be a certain way, it SHALL be that way! It is a "given" - it is "determined" - it is not "maybe" or you "may" finally be closer to being like him. It is you SHALL be like him! Plain and simple - stop telling yourself anything less than the truth - for the truth SHALL set you free from the lies of your past!
Just some thoughts today on what it is we might begin to imagine if we'd just change the focus of our imagination to align with what Christ says about us! There is nothing quite as liberating as knowing and believing the truth. Just sayin!