Column: Christ-Like? That’s a Long-Shot

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A laudable objective among Bible-reading, boots-on-the-ground Christians is to be “Christ-like.”

Let me play the ecclesial heretic a moment and wonder aloud, “Is that really what we’re shooting for – to be “like Christ”? There’s a reason I’m asking.

Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human. Hebrews 1:3 tells us Jesus is the “full radiance and the exact representation of God.” Hebrews 2:17 tells us Jesus was made “fully human in every way.” In John 14:6 Jesus tells the doubtful disciple Thomas, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” In 14:9 Jesus tells Peter, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Peter repeatedly calls Jesus Christ “Lord and Savior” (2 Peter).

That sounds well above the pay-grade of any other human I have ever heard of, met … or seen in the mirror.

In John 14, Jesus proclaims that those who believe in Him will “do the works I have been doing” (verse 12). That sort of says “be like me,” or “be Christ-like.” But Jesus goes on to describe man being obedient to Him, answering man’s prayers, bringing the Spirit of truth into the world, glorifying God, preparing a place for man in Heaven, and “doing exactly what my Father has commanded me” (verse 31), etc.

I can’t do any of that. I can’t even be “like” that. All I can do, and then only with the abiding, merciful help of the Holy Spirit, is know that Jesus is the Truth and is telling the truth about who He is, what He is doing, and what He wants us to do. Oh … and love God, love others, and share Christ’s message. That’s where the Apostle Paul seems a more apt behavior model; we have a shot at being like Paul.

Paul’s life and ministry are chronicled in the Book of Acts, wherein Saul the Christian-persecuting Pharisee encounters the ascended Christ and becomes Paul the fervent, humble, self-denying and obedient Apostle of Christ. Paul’s 13 faithful letters to churches, communities, and friends comprise the instructive bulk of the New Testament.

The Apostle Paul got it: Jesus didn’t say “Be me,” Jesus said, “Follow me.” Paul did the work of Christ – i.e., spread the message of salvation – understanding he was a follower of Christ, not the Glory of Christ. He knew all glory is God’s, not ours.

This is not to suggest we lower our eternal sights away from the sinless Jesus and divine Christ, but to improve our spiritual aim by emulating the obedient Paul.

That is what “Christ-like” looks like.

Walters (HYPERLINK “mailto:rlwcom@aol.com”rlwcom@aol.com) ponders “What Would Jesus Do?” and answers, “Things that I cannot.”

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6 Comments

  1. Hey Mike. I know who you are, and you know who I am. I cannot speak for Bob, although we both claim to be guided by the same Holy Spirit, so I can assume He would tell us both the same thing. That sounds like a crazy thing to say right off the bat doesn’t it, but that’s the deal, what we believe sounds crazy, and actually I am under the impression that God really likes how crazy it all sounds. To answer one of your questions in your blog, yes, God really is so insecure as to put Job through all of that. See, a lot of the stories in the bible are there to show us what God is like. You might think I am trying to humanize Him with characteristics like this, but that’s what is funny, we are created in His image. This is the way He is, and we can recognize some of his characteristics in ourselves, but they are His to begin with.

    Although, and to get to your main point, something “went wrong” here on Earth and with humans. Thus the story of Eve’s first sin which brought us all down. Now, let me preface all this, I do not claim to know exactly how things went down, or if these early creation stories are literal, or analogy, or allegory, or whatever. I also understand much of the bible was written from oral accounts past on and on, and it was obviously edited by many factions of people who had certain agendas, etc, etc, etc. What I do know is that this is what we were left with to read, and if I have faith that the Spirit of Jesus will lead me to what I need to understand in that book, and if I dedicate myself to listening to this Spirit and spending time reading this scripture, then the understanding I need will be bestowed upon me.

    Let me tell you a brief personal account. I was an atheist (a very vocal one) for years and years and years. I came to a point however where it was clear to me that I was being provided for in my life by someone other than myself (or family and friends). It was at this point I thought, there must be a God. Then, I thought, are all these people talking about Christ, who I have been writing off as insane or stupid or both, actually onto something? At that point, I thought to myself, ok “Jesus”, I will give it a shot, if you are real, then provide me with some understanding. I took a dive into scripture with this mind set, and in time, all of the doubts and denials I used to be so sure about, slowly fell from me, and I began to understand scripture. Not that I agree with everything any Christian says, but slowly what made sense out weighed what I thought sounded so ridiculous, and since then my faith for and understanding of Christ has been growing more every day.

    Point is, I really know where you are coming from. I used to think the same thing when I heard Christians speak. In fact, this was one of the last things I was able to relinquish. My folks are not Christian, and they are the most loving thoughtful people I know, so for me, when I heard people say things like no one can love with out Christ it made me irate. And let’s be honest, obviously there are countless wonderful loving people who are not Christian, and there are countless despicable Christians. But, I will say, since I have been Christian, how I think has dramatically changed for the better. I have clearer concepts of reality, science, love, service, community, etc. So, obviously, I am a better person than you now, and I am going to heaven and you aren’t. Just kidding, what an incredible assumption that would be to make, especially since honestly, I am still pretty despicable at times. But, if you are not going to heaven through Christ, you are not going. Whoa, that’s over the line right. Assuming there is a God, it seems to me that everyone on Earth is not up to par with him. Even if you are really really good, you are nothing compared to him. Something has gone wrong, I can’t exactly explain what it is, but we were made in his image, but now we are like him, but wrong. As the story goes though, He did something to make that right. One thing. Take it or leave it, one thing. So, it’s not that (most) Christians think they are better than atheists or what not, it is simply that we believe no one will ever be good enough to fix this problem that exists, including ourselves. It’s not that we think you are not good enough, it’s that we think NO ONE is good enough. As this article by Bob points out, it is not ourselves we are boasting about, all humans are in this same boat, it is God we are glorifying for stepping in and doing something about this sinking ship. Don’t be confused, Christians are not perfect, Christ is, He’s God! We, are not, we…are broken.

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