Thursday, July 17, 2014

Becoming Like Christ - Or, I've Sprouted Another Leak

The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 
1 John 2:6

How did Jesus walk? 

Interestingly, God did not lay out a religious performance improvement plan for Jesus to follow while he walked this earth. If He had, it more than likely would not have included destroying temple property, back-talking religious leaders and breaking all the rules (you know, little things like breaking the Sabbath, not following traditions and observing rituals, and hanging out with criminals).

When Christians exhort other Christians to walk as Christ walked, they don't mean break the rules. What they want is for people to follow the "rules." 

It is not good news when I ponder becoming like Christ. Why? Because I know me. I know not only what I've done, but what I continue to do. 

Still, there are areas of my life where I see improvement. My husband speaks about the fact that I'm different than I used to be. Our marriage is different as a result. And, I know my husband has changed too. As a result, our marriage is different. 

However, I liken it to a garden hose. Hoses sprout leaks. Once one leak is repaired, two more sprout. And so it goes. One step forward, two steps back. Just when I think I've improved a bit, more leaks sprout.

Christ told us to be holy. "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt 5:48). This is what God requires. 

The good news is spectacular;

We can't. Christ was, for us. 

How then do we walk as Jesus walked? The only way I know is by trusting Him for my holiness. For my sanctification. I know that while I might have gotten a bit better in some areas, I'm still a mess. And that's O.K.

With so much emphasis these days on our getting better, I fear the church has lost this essential truth -

we are not going to get that much better. 

Even the super apostle Paul confessed (at the end of his life), "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief" (1 Tim 1:15).

Bible verses like 1 Thess. 4:3 are sometimes pulled out of context to make a case for our pursuit of sanctification. Some say that this verse is proof that God's will for you is sanctification. However, the Greek word used is ἁγιασμὸς (hagiasmos). While not used in the Greek classics, it is found in the New Testament and is rendered holiness. God requires us to be holy as He is holy. Of course, the only problem is we cannot be holy as He is holy. There is One holy, and it is God.

Which brings us to Jesus... 


Recognizing our inability to be what God requires from us should point us to our utter need for Another. One who is Holy in our place. 

Yes, we have been given newness of life, a heart of flesh, a renewed mind, Christ in us, and the Holy Spirit. However, we are still simul iustus et peccator (simultaneously sinner and saint). Which explains my lame garden hose analogy; 

on one hand getting better and on the other hand falling short.

Take one look at modern day Christianity and it is clear that sanctification is the whole game. However, sanctification should not be the focus of our Christian life. Our justification is the focus, namely Jesus.

The good news of the gospel is not about you or me becoming more like Christ. 

The good news of the gospel is Christ became like us.

Jesus trusted his Father in heaven, condescended to us and became like us in every way that he might save those who are perishing.

How did Jesus walk?

By trusting his Father. 

The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 
1 John 2:6

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