To be conformed to the image of Christ is not an ideal to be striven after. It is not as though we had to imitate him as well as we could. We cannot transform ourselves into his image; it is rather the form of Christ which seeks to be formed in us (Galatians 4:19), and to be manifested in us. Christ’s work in us is not finished until he has perfected his own form in us. We must be assimilated to the form of Christ in its entirety, the form of Christ incarnate, crucified, and glorified (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Testament to Freedom).

This morning I read the quote above and thought, How true. Then I thought, “We must be assimilated” makes Christianity sound like becoming part of the Borg, which is evidence that I grew up in a Trekkie household even though I am not myself a “Star Trek” fan. Then I thought, But it’s still true!

It is. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines assimilate three different ways: (1) to make similar, (2) to alter by assimilation, and (3) to absorb into the culture or mores of a population or group. To become like Christ is not an activity that I strive to do, or try hard to make happen. It is difficult, but it is simple. When I let Him change me, it happens. When I try to change myself, it doesn’t work.

Assimilated is a good verb because it implies that the one being assimilated is not doing the work. It is being acted upon. I’m sounding like a Calvinist, and I’m not a Calvinist (or an Arminian – but I don’t feel like getting into that sticky mess). It’s not that I put forth no effort. It’s that my effort is that of surrendering. Of being humbled. Of coming to God with my head bowed and asking Him to change me. Of admitting, “I can’t do this myself.”


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