Column: Christ-Like? That’s a Long-Shot
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:firstname.lastname@example.org”email@example.com) ponders “What Would Jesus Do?” and answers, “Things that I cannot.”