“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

John Ortberg says we were created to be masterpieces. Though made in God’s image, we are fallen creatures whom God longs to restore to our original condition and beauty. Ortberg quotes the apostle Paul, who says that we are “God’s workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10), his “work of art.” Paul also writes about Christ being “formed” in us (Galatians 4:19). And being transformed by the renewing of your mind. A prayer by Soren Kierkegaard succinctly captures the idea of the original starting to become reality: “And now Lord, with your help, I shall become myself.” Ortberg sees us in a spiritual gestation process: “We are pregnant with possibilities of spiritual growth and moral beauty.”

To emphasize the grandeur of what this means, he quotes the familiar yet always striking works of C.S. Lewis: “It is a serious thing to live in a society if possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.” The process of becoming what Lewis and Ortberg describe starts here and now, not in some celestial birthing place after our time on earth is done. “We are called by God to live as our uniquely created selves,” Ortberg says. “To grow spiritually means to live increasingly as Jesus would in our unique place—to perceive what Jesus would perceive if he looked through our eyes, to think what he would think, to feel what he would feel, and therefore to do what he would do.” The alternative is to become less and less like the original—which would be a tragedy beyond words. Lewis explains the stakes: “It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. Ask God to restore His original design and purpose for you.

Adapted from The One Year Book of Encouragement