Be like Jesus? more…

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 the second half of my response…

Perhaps the biggest problem I have with the idea that the goal of the Christian life is to be like Jesus is that it belittles Jesus.  If my children lived by trying to be like me, rather than being with me, I would be very sad.  I can imagine them ignoring me while they try to be like me.  Isn’t this just what is done in the church?  The gospel of performance overrides a need for true relationship with our Lord.  He remains an idea, Something behind our actions, rather than a Person with Whom we walk.

Instead of trying to be like Jesus, we are called to be with Jesus.  He doesn’t tell us to imitate Him, but to follow Him.  Never did He tell us to do what He did, but He did tell us to do what He says.  I think many believers struggle with believing that Jesus is a real Person who interacts with us.  They are content to let Him stay a good idea.  That way they can do what they want and attribute it to Him.

I guess that sounds a little harsh, but this is what so many believers have learned.  Pastors and teachers fail to introduce people to Jesus as a Person.  So many teach rules and lists and standards and tell people that living a certain way and doing certain things will make them spiritual.  How sad! 

When I read your note I thought of the contrast of two old songs.  The first one gives the goal of being like Christ.

Earthly pleasures vainly call me;
I would be like Jesus;
Nothing worldly shall enthrall me;
I would be like Jesus.

Be like Jesus, this my song,
In the home and in the throng;
Be like Jesus, all day long!
I would be like Jesus.

That in heaven He may meet me,
I would be like Jesus;
That His words “Well done” may greet me,
I would be like Jesus.

Notice the works emphasis?  At the end, we are to hope for the words, Well Done, and then we will know that we are fully accepted.  Contrast that to this song:

 Jesus is all the world to me, my life, my joy, my all;
He is my strength from day to day, without Him I would fall.
When I am sad, to Him I go, no other one can cheer me so;
When I am sad, He makes me glad, He’s my Friend.

Jesus is all the world to me, I want no better Friend;
I trust Him now, I’ll trust Him when life’s fleeting days shall end.
Beautiful life with such a Friend, beautiful life that has no end;
Eternal life, eternal joy, He’s my Friend.

Of course, the second song isn’t perfect, but it certainly has a different emphasis.  The first is all about me and what I want to do.  The second is about Him.  When I have trouble, I don’t have to wonder what He would do; I am able to go to Him.  That’s a very different thing.  Jesus is real and I can talk with Him and expect Him to lead me.  I can watch for His activity.  He may change circumstances or He may lead me to act very differently from what I might normally. 

This is Jesus who is able to lead, able to work in my world.  This is the Lord and King of the Universe.  He is not just like me and I am so thankful.  He understands me and He knows me, but He is greater than me in so many ways.  Wiser, stronger, more faithful, more loving: He is much that I am not.  My goal is to let Him be all of those things in and through me, not to try to copy Him.  I can never be just like him, but I can occasionally get out of His way and watch Him do something great through me. 



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5 responses to “Be like Jesus? more…

  1. graceandgiggles

    Trying to move through your day with Jesus as the focus, knowing full well it’s His everything that creates anything good in me, is nowhere near easy! Especially when you have some old legalistic habits that are dying hard! AND an enemy that doesn’t want you to succumb to the Truth of the Son, but rather he would prefer you to believe in the deception of works, religion and rules…..lots and lots of rules. No love, no grace, just pretend it’s about Jesus, allow no real change inside.

    In the past few days, due to some circumstances beyond my control (aren’t they all! Ha ha!), I’ve discovered that following Him is WAY harder than doing life my way. I said to my mom, “This ain’t for sissies! And I’m a sissy!” Ha ha, poking fun at the feable attempts I try to get through the day rejoicing and victorious, when deep down inside I just want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and forget it’s all happening. BUT, in all that humanity……..Jesus remains!

    • It doesn’t feel easy, does it? Yet, He says that His burden is light. That’s because He carries it and He is strong. We are supposed to place all our burdens on Him. That way we don’t carry anything. Which actually sounds easy, I guess.
      So it isn’t for us to try to make our burdens light or to carry them with more strength, but to lay them down. The challenge is giving them up when they have been such an important part of our lives. What would we be without our burdens? They define us. They rule us. They give purpose to our lives. Without them – well, without them we would be free!

  2. Kay

    Check me on this: When we behold Him face to face, we will be changed. I am reading a older book “The God-chasers” which speaks my desire to “see my Lord face to face” AND change. I was born again because of Jesus’ intervention in my heart. I didn’t know much and really couldn’t even respond well. The days came where I began to seek Him for real, not religiously. I saw Him in “heaven”, not up close and personal. The closer I drew to Him, His will, His Presence, the more excited I became. I began to run to Him; I could see Him much better. THEN, He began to “run” to catch me as He did when I was a little girl. I am now becoming more like Jesus, for it is Him whom my Lord God sees, the driving desire to look like Him spiritually, to live under the Lord’s shed Blood. I can do nothing of myself.

    Whom I worship, spend time with daily, revel in His Presence, learn to Agape love myself and others brings me to ‘mirror’ His heart for the lost, forgive when pained. Today, I no longer seek the ‘things’, the hand of God. I seek His face, my beloved “Daddy”.

  3. Me becoming like Him is His goal, not mine. He will accomplish His work in me. Moses glowed after being in the presence of God. He hid his face from the people because it would make them afraid of him, like the power of God made them afraid of God. So, yes, Moses became more like the One he was with. The same thing happens with us. The goal, then, is to be with Him.

  4. Ana

    David your blogs are really teaching me so many things I didn’t know! I was trying to learn about narcissism and all that and then in the morning when I was praying I asked Jesus to help me be like him, I always thought the goal of a christian is to be like Christ! then I stumbled on this…I completely understand what you are saying about following him and not trying to copy him. I am still learning, I have subscribes to your blog, God bless you so much. From this day on I will learn how to be personal with him like a best friend and not someone to be watched from afar and admired like a trophy. Thanks Dave

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