Posted by: rcottrill | September 2, 2015

I Shall Be Like Him

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William Anson Spencer (b. Sept. 6, 1840; d. Sept. 25, 1901)
Music: William Anson Spencer

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Spencer was a busy pastor, who wrote a few hymns, but only one seems to be found commonly in hymn books today. Published in 1897, it takes its title, I Shall Be Like Him, from the first line of the refrain.

Years ago we had, in our collection of Christmas tree lights, one of the earliest bulbs ever made for that purpose. It still worked–probably because we didn’t use it anymore. It gave off only a dim glow, through greenish glass. Included in a string of newer lights, it was totally outshone, its weak beam almost invisible from a few feet away.

Light bulbs overall have undergone many changes. The goal has been to devise ones that last longer, produce a clear, bright light, but consume less energy in doing so. That’s typical of many other things, from cars to computers, from power saws to soap. New products are repeatedly advertised as bigger, stronger, faster, and more effective than what came before.

Not all the changes delight us. And we’ve come to realize, “new and improved” is sometimes a matter of opinion. But manufacturers keep trying to win us to their latest creation. They imply, for awhile, that each is the “ultimate”–a word that’s used sometimes. But we all know that’s not the case. The commercial hyperbole only lasts until the next version comes off the line.

Bring this over into human experience. Book stores often have many shelves of volumes dedicated to a “new and improved” you. Personal development is big business. Articles on the Net proclaim how to better yourself as well. Here’s how to quit a bad habit, or let go of the past they may claim. Well, yes. Easy to say, but not always so easy to accomplish. In fact, while we may be cheered by small victories, we’re repeatedly confronted with how far we have yet to go. “Nobody’s perfect” is more than a cliche.

The Bible addresses our spiritual progress similarly, declaring, as a starting point, that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We are called to put our faith in Christ, our Saviour (Jn. 3:16), and begin a life of consistent faith and obedience toward God. It is expected that Christians will “ grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 3:18). But even the great Apostle Paul had to admit, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on” (Phil. 3:12).

We can indeed grow and make progress in our spiritual lives. But true and ultimate perfection awaits a better day. When the believer is called into the presence of God, we are assured of both physical and spiritual perfection. At that time, “[He] will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Phil. 3:21), and “we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him” (I Jn. 3:2). “As for me…I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness,” says the psalmist (Ps. 17:15).

It is a future we long for, a transformation worth waiting for, celebrated in the hymn by William Anson Spencer. The hymn begins:

CH-1) When I shall reach the more excellent glory,
And all my trials are passed,
I shall behold Him, O wonderful story!
I shall be like Him at last.

I shall be like Him, I shall be like Him,
And in His beauty shall shine;
I shall be like Him, wondrously like Him,
Jesus, my Saviour divine.

But Pastor Spencer also understood that, though this ultimate perfecting awaits us, we can still work on developing a godly character and a Christlike spirit, here and now, by the grace of God. Progress now, perfection yet to come.

CH-2) We shall not wait till the glorious dawning
Breaks on the vision so fair,
Now we may welcome that heavenly morning,
Now we His image may bear.

CH-3) More and more like Him, repeat the blest story,
Over and over again,
Changed by His Spirit from glory to glory,
I shall be satisfied then.

1) What particular area of Christian growth and development are you concentrating on right now?

2) What methods and means are you using to grow spiritually in this area?

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal


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