Bible Readings: Romans 8:29/Philippians 2:5-13/ 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Christlikeness is something that we should be attaining to, something we deliberately set out to be developed in our lives. When we say we want to be like Jesus we are not setting out to become a god, but we do hope to be godly in our character – sharing Christ’s values; learning to think the way he thinks, and act the way he acts.
“God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.”
(Romans 8:29 The Message)
God has the goal that we become like his son, to take us from wherever we are, and bring us through a lifelong process of change that will result in our becoming more and more like Jesus Christ.
In our individualistic culture, we are very much influenced by the idea that we shouldn’t try to be like anyone else, but we should be ourselves. We are told that conformity lowers self-esteem and self-worth. We are all wired differently and we want to worship, pray and serve in different ways. To people who get fired up with words like innovation, inspiration and variation, the word conform is difficult..
However becoming like Jesus isn’t about smothering personality but it is about freeing us from the damage sin and healing us of the wounds we have experienced that have disrupted the way we are wired. So for example, the imaginative person is much more likely to be a worrier because they can imagine all the things that can go wrong and that person starts to believe, “I am a natural worrier.
Becoming like Jesus won’t rob the imaginative person of their creativity but it will release them from paralysing worry. The passionate person who can feel strongly about things could so easily say, “I am naturally hot tempered.” Becoming like Jesus won’t rob them of their passion, but it will fire their desire to not accept the status quo, to use their energy to win the lost and stand up against evil.
Conformed to Christ’s image, doubters and cynics are released to be explorers of truth as passionate as Jesus about the word of God. Conformed to the image of Jesus the compulsive can become faithful, the impulsive, giants of faith, willing to risk their lives for the kingdom.
To what image of Christ are we conforming? Some people quite frankly might say I don't want to be like Christ because they have an image of him that is influenced by the wrong message about him or because they interpret him through their culture. We need to read the gospels and meet Jesus there. The Bible is like no other book and that if we ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes we will see what Jesus is really like.
a) He had a servant heart
We live in a world that worships success. Jesus by His humility showed everyone else’s pretensions to greatness as overdressing. There was a beauty in the simplicity and humility with which He lived His life.
Someone has said, “When we forget greatness and bend with Christ we rise”.
b) A serene heart
Jesus knew inward peace because His life was centred on things above not on things on earth. He invested in character and concentrated on making sure He was within the will of God rather than pleasing people.
c) A steadfast heart
He remained loyal to one aim and to one purpose. He would let nothing clash with that. He allowed nothing else to clash with this. When there is a division in our thoughts it is not long before there is a division in our actions.
There are certain ideals which I cherish which only mock me because they are so far beyond me. I may greatly admire some world famous singer but remain a crow. I am lost in wonder at the sill of the concert hall pianist who makes light of the most complicated passages but my finders remain thumbs. I see on a television programme the expertise of a blind man who make a model of Concorde an aeroplane he has never seen out of match sticks but it takes me all my time to drive a nail in straight, These achievements only make me despair even while I admire them but the uniqueness of holy living as exemplified in Jesus is that in him we are give both pattern and power.”
(General Frederick Coutts)
We are not seeking to honour a dead hero by emulating His life. We glorify Him by allowing His living presence to transform and change our ordinary lives.
One of the supreme yet unrealized promises of God is simply this: If we have given our lives to Jesus, Jesus has given himself to us. He has made our heart his home.
“Christ lives in me.’ Galatians 2:20
“Christ-likeness is not produced by imitation but by inhabitation. (Robert Warren)
and living to please Him, then give thanks to God because God is at work in you. If you have a hunger for God’s word. If you have a growing resolve to be not just a hearer of the Word but also a doer of the word give thanks to God for God is at work in you.
Yet “The person that has a heart for God will always be experiencing the hand of God.” (Anon)
God has to do a work of correction and conforming. There are things in our life that need correcting; there are things that need removing. He works in the following ways:
a) Through testing and trials
“Not only so be we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope.” (Romans 5:3)