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To Be Like Jesus

6-13a_head_of_christ[1].jpg“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Galatians 3:27

If you want to put your head around essential Christianity, this is it. It’s the big TEN on the one-to-ten scale. The rest of the stuff—-no matter how awesome—-plays only a supporting role. The main event has always been, and must continue to be, Christ-likeness. So, how do we do it?

To be like Jesus means to make him your ideal. Jesus is the highest good, the source of wisdom, the standard of perfection, the unrivaled champion of the scriptures. Without Him, we have only unexplained ceremonies, unachieved purposes, unsatisfied longings and unfulfilled prophecies. Without Christ the old law is a river which has lost its way to the sea, a swift-flying arrow with no target and a magnificent eagle with no roosting branch. Jesus Christ forms the centripetal point of the law—-everything converges upon Him, and the centrifugal point of grace—-everything emerges from Him. He is the theme of both Old and New Testaments, the raison d’être to every dispensation of time, the reflection of every great personage and the substance of every great type. He is the arch-superlative. He is the writer’s masterpiece, the composer’s magnum opus, the architect’s signature creation, the artist’s exposition work, the mountain climber’s Mt. Everest, the scientist’s Nobel prize, the soldier’s Purple Heart, the actor’s Oscar, the Olympian’s gold medal, the sports hero’s championship ring, the miner’s mother lode, the judge’s landmark decision, the investor’s windfall and the inventor’s chef-d’oeuvre. Jesus is the best, highest, greatest, biggest, farthest, widest, richest and finest.

To be like Jesus means to see him as the pattern for your life. “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.” Ephesians 5:2. You need not be at a loss as to what to do in any given situation. You have his example, his testimony, his words, his record. What should you do if you are attacked? Criticized? Lied upon? Betrayed? Forgotten? Rejected? Victimized? Just do what Jesus did.

To be like Jesus means to obey his commandments. “Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5. Jesus is not just your facilitator, your aide or consultant. He speaks with absolute authority. Omnipotent and omniscient, he has the perspective of eternity. He is Alpha and Omega, beginning and ending, first and last. He was here before he arrived and left while he was still here. One man said, “He is the miracle between the virgin’s womb and the empty tomb. He came through a door marked ‘No Entrance’ and left through a door marked ‘No Exit.’” He conquers disease; stills storms; quiets chaos; restores organs; destroys demons; defeats debaters; speaks creatively; teaches without error and knows the future. Yet, we do not keep his commandments for these reasons alone; we keep his commandments because we love him!

To be like Jesus means to submit to him. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7. Submission means surrendering your rights; accepting a higher authority over you; forfeiture of position, privilege and place. At Gethsemane , Jesus submitted his flesh to the Father. At our new birth, we submit our body, soul and spirit to Christ. “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:1-2

To be like Jesus means to identify with him. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” Romans 6:3. A uniform identifies the wearers group; the name and bloodline identifies and shows distinction from all others. We are identified with Christ by means of his name and his blood. This makes baptism in the name of Jesus supremely significant. All the things that make us unique should be worn as a badge of honor.

To be like Jesus means to be adopted into him. “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15. In the sense that we are sinful flesh, we are not made in the total likeness of Christ. Adoption covers this gap in identity. Adoption confers legal and moral force of a naturally born child to his or her parents. Adopted children are often called by cruel names by their tormentors to deny their identity and legitimacy. For us, such epithets fall meaninglessly to the ground.

To be like Jesus means to be defined by him. “Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God .’” John 3:5-8. The DNA encoding transferred by the parents instructs the body how to grow, what shape and size it will be, and every feature down to the most miniscule molecule. Our new birth defines our values, ideals, goals, ambitions, dreams, visions, gifts, talents and everything about this life and the next. Yes, it limits our reach, but deity defines the limits! So…drop everything to pursue Christ; direct everything to conform to him; define everything to function like him. We have no greater—-no other—-purpose.

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