“…. for whom He knew beforehand, also He decided beforehand as sharing the likeness of the image of His Son, so as for Him to be first-born among many brothers” (Romans 8:29).
We are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, most translations put it. This is our destiny and why we were chosen and called; to be like Jesus. How else can He be the first born of many brothers and sisters?
It is a nonsense of the post modern Church to say that predestination occurs in this life but that being conformed to His likeness is something that must wait until after this life ends. In this reading, the fact that we are chosen and predestined means that we can leave everything else to Him and that we may live our lives according to our own wishes and desires and that all will be done in the future. This, of course, is a doctrine of convenience that allows us to follow the distractions of the flesh and live our lives in the soul, not the spirit. But it is false; Jesus, after all, was conformed to the image of His Father in this life; “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” He said. So it must be with us.
This life is the place and time of preparation; decisions taken here will have eternal consequences. It is certain that if we turn our back on the moulding and shaping of the hand of God that is preparing us in this life, we cannot expect Him to apply Himself to the task in the next.
Certainly, we have a handicap; corrupted flesh that is genetically disposed to wickedness, sin and self-satisfaction. Certainly too, Jesus was born without that impediment, although He faced the same temptations and distractions as do we all. But He showed us, by example, the path to follow if we are to be conformed to His image, or to share His likeness; renouncing worldliness, the hypocrisy of religion, praying at all times, listening to the Father, communing at all times with Him, taking up the Father’s wish instead of His own, living the word instead of speaking it from unclean lips.
Jesus teaches us, even today, what He taught His followers when He sojourned upon this earth; turn your back upon the pleasures and distractions of this life, be holy, choose whom you will serve, you cannot serve both God and Mammon; it is one or the other. We cannot be holy by our own efforts; but if we will sacrifice our will to Him, as He sacrificed His will to the Father, then He will show us the way and we truly can be conformed to His image and share His likeness, nature and character. That is what it takes and that is why He chose us.