Do you want to be like Christ?
Or do you really want Christ to be like you?
The word Christian means, “Christ Like,” and one of the primary goals of Christianity is for followers of the faith to be true disciples, or students, of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Himself acknowledged this and desired this. “It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.” (Matthew 10:25a) Likewise Jesus wanted disciples. He told His followers, “Make disciples of every nation.” (Matthew 28:19a)
Jesus was the perfect man. He was pleasing to God in every way, a lamb without blemish. He was tempted as we are, yet was without sin. (cf. Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 1:15) When God looked down upon Jesus, He was able to say, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
If we can learn to be like Christ, then it follows that God will be well pleased with us also.
In baptism, a disciple of Christ washes away their sins (cf. Acts 22:16) and puts on Christ (cf Galatians 3:27). Having put on Christ, the goal is to live in such a way as to be able to say with the apostle, “I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)
To be like Christ, to follow His example, to live as He lived, and to let Him live within us, is not always easy. It requires that an individual be able to own up to their own faults, and a willingness to change those faults, allowing God, through His word and the power of His Spirit to work in a man, “transforming them through the renewing of their mind.” (Romans 12:2).
Most people don’t really want change. They prefer affirmation.
They don’t want to acknowledge their own faults and shortcomings. They don’t want to have to admit their ideas are wrong, and their thinking is misguided. They don’t want to learn to be like someone else. They are satisfied with who they are. What they crave is for other people to tell them that they are fine just as they are.
God has made man in His image, but again and again, throughout history, man has contrarily sought, in his quest for affirmation and self-gratification, to remake God in his own image. Instead of worshiping God as He is, men create idols and imbue those idols with their own follies and faults. They worship and serve the creation, rather than the creator. (cf. Romans 1:23-25)
We see this all the time. Individuals who assume that God agrees with their particular views on such a diverse range of topics as Homosexuality, worship, divorce and remarriage, salvation, government, drugs, gambling, anger, drinking, or any of a dozen other issues that arise in one’s life. They believe that if they are fine with a thing, then God is fine with it too. They refuse to believe that God would hold their various choices against them, and they are certain that God must agree with their private opinion of a thing.
But that’s not Christianity.
That’s not learning to be “like Christ.” That is simply assuming Christ is like us.
To learn to be like Christ, we have to learn who Christ really was, what He really taught, and understand and accept where this is different from how we already are.
Jesus is not offering us affirmation. If we were fine the way we are, there would have been no need for Him to die for us, and there would be no need for us to repent, and there would be no need for us to be transformed. But He did die for our sins, He commands us to repent, and He desires us to change. (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3; Luke 13:3; Romans 12:2)
What Jesus is offering us is salvation. A salvation that is found through His blood, His mercy, and in the righteousness He teaches us to have. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” says Jesus, “Nobody comes to the Father, except by Me.” (John 14:6)
If Jesus was just like us, there would be no hope for salvation.
So, do you want Christ to be like you?
Or would you prefer to learn to be like Christ?
If you would like to learn more about Christ, and the salvation He offers, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.