Let’s begin by answering the question negatively first: What it doesn’t mean to become like Christ. First of all, it doesn’t mean that you become a GOD. Let me be absolutely clear on this. You will never become God or a god. I realize there are many religions that teach that, but that’s not what the Bible teaches. You were made in the image of God. One of the devil’s oldest lies is that we can become God. What did the devil say to Adam and Eve? “If you eat of this tree you will be like God.” No you won’t, because you were made in God’s image. God doesn’t want you to be a god – there can only be one God. But God wants you to be godly. And there is a difference.
Second, it doesn’t mean that you become a mindless clone. Some people have said, “If I become a Christian I have to dress this way, I have to act this way, I have to think this way, I have to do this, I’m just going to be a mindless clone of everybody else.” This whole idea of becoming like Christ doesn’t mean that you lose your personality. God created you to be unique. He doesn’t want to destroy it. Becoming like Christ is about transforming your character not your personality.
And finally, becoming like Christ doesn’t mean that your life becomes easier. Some of you have heard this and this is not true. It’s a lie. Becoming like Christ doesn’t mean you’re going to have perfect health or a comfortable lifestyle or constant happiness or that your dreams are going to be fulfilled or you’re going to have instant relief from problems. Becoming like Christ doesn’t mean your life is going to be easier but your life will be better. It’ll be richer, it’ll be more rewarding. You’ll be able to live life to its fullest because you will be fulfilling your purpose.
Now that we have seen what becoming like Christ doesn’t mean, let’s spend the rest of our time looking at … What it DOES take to become like Christ? Here’s what it does mean. It does mean taking on Christ VALUES, Christ ATTITUDES, and Christ CHARACTER. There’s a key word in Philippians 2:5, the word is “attitude.” “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” That’s what it means to become like Christ. His values, His attitude and His character become ours.
Look at another verse in Ephesians 4. It’s an awesome verse. Ephesians 4:22 out of the Message paraphrase says, “Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. [That’s referring to the values and character you had before you knew Christ. It has to go] It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” God reproducing His character in you. That’s what it means to become like Christ.
It’s really a combination of three things. Becoming like Christ is a combination of God’s part, our part and others. So first, I play a part in becoming like Christ. So, what’s my part? First, I can commit myself to God’s way. This is a choice we make. When Jesus was starting His ministry, He was walking around gathering some disciples. He came across Matthew sitting at his tax collectors booth by the side of the road and He says ‘Come, be my disciple.’” Just imagine. Fast forwarding the clock 2000 years later. You’re at home or work. You are on your lunch break and just sitting around relaxing. Jesus walks by. He says, “Hey! Come on, follow me. Come be my disciple.” What do you think you might do? You might laugh. You might blow Him off. Say, “Maybe Later Mate!” Something like that. But what did Matthew do? “Matthew got up and followed him.”
Two thousand years later Jesus is making that same offer to you and to me. Come! Be my disciple. Come! Be my follower. And we’ve got the same choice that Matthew faced. We can either commit to following God’s way or not.
I’ll be honest with you, sometimes God’s way is difficult. Sometimes it’s not always clear. It’s sometimes as crazy as the sign in this photo. There is snow on the playground equipment – it’s definitely not hot. The picture and the sign don’t seem to work together, but they do. There are times when that playground equipment is very hot so that sign is very important. It may not make sense right there, right then, but one day it will. That is a bit like what the Christian life is like that. I may not fully be able to make sense of it all, but that’s what faith is: “God, I’m going to trust you that you’re bigger than my little peanut mind. That when you say, “This is the way I ought to live my life. I’m going to trust because You’re bigger and grander and more powerful than I could ever be.” So in playing my part I can commit myself to God’s way.
Secondly, in playing my part, I need to change the way I think. We live in a world which is dominated by peer groups which set everything from the fashions we wear to the food we eat to the music we listen to. But Paul warns us in Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
People often ask me, “How do I know God’s will for my life, what God wants me to do?” What does the Bible say? Change the way you think then you will know what God wants you to do. And then you will know how good and pleasing and perfect it really is. If you change the way you think, you begin to think not like those movers and shakers around you, but as God thinks. You begin to adopt His priorities and understand what is important to Him.
Do you want to become like Christ? You’ve got a part to play. First you’ve got to commit to God’s way. Then you’ve got to begin to change the way that you think. These are both decisions you need to make – this is our part. This is what is possible for us mere human beings, but it takes more than that to make us into people like Jesus Christ. There is a part that is impossible for you or I to achieve – that’s God’s part.
It is totally impossible to follow God in our own power. By ourselves we will never match up. So God gives us His spirit and the desire to obey Him and then the power to do what pleases Him. It is by His power, working in us that we become like Christ. So we play a part (doing what is possible) and God plays a part (what is impossible).
And then finally, “others” play a part in me becoming like Christ. Notice how I put others in quotes. I want you to know that it’s more than just people that make you like Christ. It’s things like circumstances also – other things. If I’m going to become like Christ I need to take a route, a path, a journey. How do I know what that path is?
First, God’s word provides the truth. God’s Word provides the truth of how to become like Christ. Look what the Bible says about the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” The Bible is God’s voice. If the only time you’re hearing God’s voice is when you come to church and you hear the Bible taught to you, you’re out of range of God’s voice six other days of the week.
There are so many voices in this world shouting at you telling you what to do and how to live. You turn on the TV – boom! There’s a voice. You go to work – boom! There’s a voice. Everywhere you go there’s these voices telling us how to live. Most of them don’t lead to life – most are very confusing.
Has anyone here ever watched little kids play soccer? If you want to go on a fun date sometime: take some lounge chairs, some hot chocolate and go find a 5, 6, 7-year-old soccer game. It’s mass chaos. Half the time you watch the kids. Half the time you watch the parents. Here’s what happens. Parents are standing on the sideline yelling. They’re all screaming: Kick the ball! Kick the ball! Go for it! Kick the ball! Run! Run! And these voices are coming from both sides echoing around the field and these poor kids are trying to listen to their parents, the coach and the ref all at the same time. And they are trying to kick the silly ball! I mean these kids are standing right on the ball. It doesn’t matter which direction – they are just trying to kick the ball.
Another funny thing – They travel in packs. The ball spits out of the pack and the whole group moves as one after the ball. I mean everyone – even the two goal keepers. They know they’re supposed to kick the ball – they surely don’t need all the advice. It’s not like some kid stops and goes, “Kick the ball? I thought I was supposed to pet a puppy. Thank you mom.” There’s all these voices echoing around and it gets so confusing. That’s what life is like every day for us. You’re always hearing voices coming from all sorts of directions about what is right and what is wrong and how to live and where to go and what to do with your life and what your aims should be. But if we want to find the truth, we need to look at God’s word – it has a clear path for us to follow.
Secondly, God’s people provide the support. This shouldn’t surprise you either … we talked a bit about it last week. You don’t do life alone. If you want to become like Christ you’ve got to rub shoulders with people who are on the same path and walk in the same direction. That’s why we encourage you to get involved in a small group with people who are like-minded and want to do the same thing. Paul writing to the Romans says in Romans 1:11-12 “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” If we are serious about becoming like Christ, here’s what we have to do. I’ve got to find some other people who want to be like Christ too – people that are doing their part. – I do my part, God does His part, the Bible sets the direction, others come alongside and encourage.
And here’s the last thing I want you to hear. Becoming like Christ is a long process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” God who began the good work will continue it. God will continue to do that work for the rest of your lives.
It’s a lifelong journey of becoming like Christ. You do your part. God does His part. His word sets the course. Other people go along for the ride and help you. That’s how we maximize our impact as we grow deeper through discipleship. That’s how we become more like Christ.
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