"For whom He foreknew, He also pre-destined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born of many brethren" Rom. 8:29 NKJV (emphasis mine).
Italicized words in the King James version of the bible aren't found in the original manuscripts. They were added at the discretion of the translators in order to make the final product more legible and easier to understand.
Rom is an example. As written, the implication is that conformity to the image of God's Son will be a future event. Someday, in the Sweet Bye and Bye, when we all get to Heaven, we'll be like Jesus. Sans to be, the scripture takes on a totally different meaning. We already are in the image of Jesus, God's Son, and because we are, He has lots of siblings now.
This is how it works naturally. I have an older sister. When I was born she became my elder sibling. I didn't initially enter this world in some alternative state (although I think she would argue that point even today!) and over time evolve into her little sister. Although younger and for a period of time developmentally the lesser, I have always been, for better or worse, part of her family.
Genesis contains this principle also. Adam was created in God's image and likeness. He didn't grow into it, he was made that way. Developmentally, he was never God's equal but He was still the human personification of his Creator.
From before creation, this had always been God's original intent. The fall changed everything. God's solution was to send Christ, as a man, to redeem fallen humanity. Jesus is the first but not the only born of God. He is the elder brother with countless siblings. Developmentally, He'll always be way out in front of us, but He sets the example and pattern for us to follow in order to grow up into mature sons of God.
Romans continues the theme. Those who are predestined and conformed are also: called, justified and glorified. Beside being really awesome words there is a single unifying thread - they're all past tense. As an English grammar re-fresher, past tense means it's already a done deal. This is our present position, as far as God's concerned.
We're all too painfully aware of our shortcomings. As much as we try to play God, we should be grateful that He's not like us. Our focus needs to shift off of how we see ourselves and zero in on God's view of us. We keep focusing on the wrong image.
1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, describes the nature of God. He is patient, kind, neither envious nor puffed up. God isn't rude, self-seeking or prone to bragging. He doesn't possess a hair-trigger temper or waste time and energy thinking ill of others. God doesn't rejoice when people fail, He rejoices in the truth. He bears all things graciously and believes the best no matter the circumstances. God never loses hope and because He is love, He never fails.
Now, insert your name in this passage of scripture. If it makes you want to choke, press on. This is what your conformity to the image of Christ looks like. It is who God designed you to be right now. You may miss the mark occasionally but that doesn't disqualify you. If you lose your footing and stumble, get back up where you belong and move forward.
How about you? How does being already conformed to the image of Christ sit with you? In which areas of your life can you use a fresh look into who you really are in Him? What scriptures can help you reframe you vision of yourself and also renew your mind? Why not ask your older brother Jesus for help in following His role model? Remember: "Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass" 1 Thes. NASB