Who Do I Look Like?
“Who does he look like?” This was the most common question people asked me after the birth of my son. People would furrow their brows and study Elias’ small facial features, as they would question. I too would tilt my head, and look at the little man, and reply, “I have no idea who he looks like.”
No Matter How I Look At Birth, I Am A Son Or Daughter
When Elias was born, he did not resemble Mark or me. Sometimes I couldn’t help but wonder if someone had accidentally switched my baby with someone else’s when I wasn’t looking. Thankfully I did know Elias was mine because he never left my hospital room. I made sure of that!
This non-resemblance made me think about when I became a Christian. When I was born into the family of God, like Elias, I did not instantly look like my Father. I did not automatically think, talk, and act the way that God did, just as Elias didn’t instantly think, talk, and act the way that Mark did. However, one thing was certain at my “birth”, I was God’s child. Just as Elias was Mark’s child the moment he was born.
The minute I repented and professed faith in Jesus Christ, God changed my identity from sinner to saint. I became a daughter of God. Though I didn’t resemble my Heavenly Father right away, sanctification began to take place. Sanctification took place at my conversion because in my sin I could not fellowship with a holy God. Yet, Jesus made a way through His death and resurrection for me to partake of His holiness.
Growing To Look Like The Father
Even though Mark and I were confident that Elias was our baby, it still took months for Elias to start looking like his father. The DNA was there from the beginning, but it wasn’t until Elias started to grow up that he finally began to share Mark’s facial expressions, mannerisms, and even temperament. I even found out that Elias shares his father’s odd shaped big toe.
The same is true about me, as a child of God. I am instantly God’s child at conversion, but the more I grow and am around my Heavenly Father, in prayer and in His Word, the more I will resemble Him. This process of growth is what is known as progressive sanctification. A theologian said, “Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives” (Grudem 746). This simply means that the Holy Spirit empowers me to live a holy life (NDBT 558-549). Therefore, the more I grow in the sanctification, the more I begin to look like God—my Father. Looking like the Father and growing in sanctification will happen because 1 Thessalonians 4:3a says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.”
It may be a simple truth to say that children look like their parents; however, it becomes a significant truth because God wants us to look like our Heavenly parent—our Father. God does not want His children to look like the world (Rom. 12:2), instead He wants us to look like Him.
But how can we look like God the Father, the invisible God? We look like God, by being conformed to the image of His son, Jesus. God the Father is invisible and transcendent whereas Jesus—the Son—became human flesh not only that He would be like us, but also that we might become like Him. Romans 8:29 says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
A Lifestyle Of Looking Like The Father
Conforming to the image of Jesus means I am separated from sin and godlessness. This only happens through sanctification. Sanctification is a lifestyle of yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit. It is a lifestyle of obedience. Through every circumstance I face, Christ wants to make me holy and more like my Father God through Jesus. So literally everything that happens is for my sanctification! So what does sanctification look like in real life? For me, it is walking in order to please God (1 Thes. 4:1). It is loving my family even if I’m exhausted (4:9). It is walking properly before non-Christians (4:12). It is not grieving without hope, like the world. Instead I believe truth and hope in God (4:13).
In conclusion, sanctification happens at conversion as well as throughout the rest of our lives. It will happen because it is God’s will for our lives (1 Thes. 4:3). This sanctification is God pursuing His glory through my personal holiness. As Elias resembles Mark—his father, the Lord wants me to resemble my Heavenly Father. When people see me, I am to remind them of God.