Be Like Jesus?

A while ago I received a question about the goal of the Christian life.  The writer said that a pastor had taught that our goal was to be like Christ.  Here’s my response…

While being like Christ seems to be a worthy spiritual goal, I would have two problems with it.  First, I don’t think the Bible ever tells us that we should be like Christ.  It says that we will be like Him when He is finally revealed (1 John 3:2), but not that being like Him should be our goal.  In fact, Paul invites us to imitate him (Paul) as he follows Christ. 

The trap here is just what you express.  How can I be like Christ?  For most people that means doing things like Jesus would.  Never mind that I don’t necessarily know how He would respond in a certain situation nor that He would necessarily expect me to respond in the way He would respond.  He knows so much that I don’t know and He can do so much that I can’t do.  For example, when the blind man came to Jesus, Jesus healed him.  Would Jesus expect me to do the same thing when I meet a blind man?  He might choose to heal the man and He might use me in the process, but I don’t think we are expected to go out and heal on every occasion. 

Of course, this isn’t what your pastor and others mean when they tell us we should be like Christ.  What they mean is that we should avoid sin like Jesus did and be kind in ways they think He would be kind.  So, would Jesus look at porn or cheat on His taxes?  Of course not.  Would He pass by someone in need or reject a poor person?  Of course not.  So be like that, they would say.  It’s just the old “performance spirituality” again.  Except that now it pretends a connection to Jesus.

One of my concerns is that this really has nothing to do with Jesus.  The list people use has more to do with what they think Jesus would do.  The old question, “What would Jesus do?”, always bothered me because people really don’t know the answer in most situations, nor would they consider asking Him.  Instead, they just do what they think is best.  So now we have “What would Jesus eat?” and other nonsense.  Would Jesus watch football on Sunday?  Would He eat that extra dessert?  Would He watch TV?  On and on and on. 

So am I more like Christ when I do these things?  Of course not.  I am more like I think Christ would be if He were in my situation.  Even that will be limited by my honesty and my willingness to do things that challenge me.  Most believers are very good at ignoring things they don’t want to change.  Gossip, judgmental attitudes, acting superior – these are overlooked when we try to be more spiritual.  (Although I suppose you could say that Jesus acted like He thought He was perfect!  I have known believers who seem to be imitating that fairly well.)


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One response to “Be Like Jesus?

  1. graceandgiggles

    I’ve always wondered about this? I mean, does He expect me to behave like Him? Being the Son of God and living the perfect sinless life. I could never attempt to even come close. I’ve struggled with this lately and sometimes the more I read because I want to learn and I’m like a sponge, the more confused I get. No matter what I think, what I read or what I feel, I keep coming back to a basic……focus on Christ. Ya just can’t go wrong with that! Unless of course you’re a Pharisee, than you’ll find all kinds of wrong things in me and my life.
    ~Rebekah Grace~

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