For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
Perhaps you have heard that one before. Many people have. It has been thundered from many pulpits and bellowed on a thousand street corners. Maybe you read it on a roadside billboard, or even on the side of a barn somewhere in rural America. Often the focus is on the bad news that “all have sinned,” and the problem that creates between us and God. Fair enough.
But there is also some good news hidden in that verse, and it is this: We were created to participate in the glory of God. Man was created in the image of God and according to His likeness.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)God’s plan from the beginning was for us to be like Him and to be His image in the world. In other words, we were created to bear the glory of God. Like the moon bears the glory of the sun and reflects it to the earth, we were meant to reflect His greatness and goodness to all creation.
The terrible news about sin is that by it we have “come short” of that glory. We have all “sinned.” The Greek word, hamartano, literally means to “miss the mark.” God created us to reflect His goodness, but we have done what is evil. God meant for us to show forth His righteousness, but we have done what is not right. Consequently, we have fallen far short of the glorious role He prepared for us.
But the good news is that in the Lord Jesus Christ that glory is being restored in us, as Christ lives His life through us, the Holy Spirit brings forth His fruit in us, and the Father conforms us to the image of His Son (Galatians 2:20; Galatians 5:23-23; Romans 8:29). Indeed, the mystery that has been revealed in the gospel is that Christ in us is the hope, or expectation, of glory (Colossians 1:27). And now, as Paul says, “we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).