“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
If I were to choose one phrase that I would want people to use to describe me, it would be that phrase from Acts, “They recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
I am certainly a long way from that ever happening, but it is my desire to be like Jesus; to be so much like Jesus that others take note. To look like Jesus. To be like Jesus. Because becoming like Christ is our primary calling as Christians.
In fact, I can tell you what God’s will is for your life: It’s to become like Jesus.
Romans 8:28-29 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
We have been called and predestined (past tense) “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” God’s purpose for His people is Christlikeness.
2 corinthians 3:18 adds, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
We are also being transformed (present tense) into the image of Jesus. Not only is it God’s eternal purpose that we become like Christ, but it is a present transformation of believers, by the Holy Spirit, to become Christlike.
And then 1 John 3:2 promises, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
Ultimately, we will be (future tense) conformed to the image of Jesus. We don’t really know what we will be in eternity, but we do know that we will be like Jesus. We will be with Christ and we will be like Christ. Incredible.
It seems clear to me that the goal of the Christian life is to be like Jesus, past, present, and future.
So here are a few ways that we are called to be like Jesus:
- We are called to be like Jesus in His service.
“Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15).
Jesus was the ultimate servant. In fact He “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
- We are called to be like Jesus in His love.
“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2).
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16).
- We are called to be like Jesus in His suffering.
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10).
“But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:20-21).
“But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).
- We are called to be like Jesus in His mission.
“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18).
“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).
More than just to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), we are called to “make disciples of all nations” because, in doing so, we become like Jesus. We are like Jesus when as the Father sent Him into the world, He is sending us.
But just like anything else in our Christian walk, it is easy for even our calling in life (becoming like Jesus) to become legalistic. We feel like we have to check off this list: serve, love, suffer, be on mission, and we will become like Jesus.
Eventually, wanting to be like Jesus has to move from our head to our heart. We will want to be like Jesus because we love Him. Because there is no one better than Jesus. Because He is all we need.
I love the way The Message paraphrases this verse from Hebrews, “Don’t be lured away from him by the latest speculations about him. The grace of Christ is the only good ground for life. Products named after Christ don’t seem to do much for those who buy them” (13:9).
To be honest, I’ve tried a lot of products other than Jesus. I’ve tried to find my identity in friendships, but they often fail. I’ve tried to find my identity in being a good worship leader, but it’s never enough. I’ve tried relationships, but they fall short. I’ve tried the party scene, but it doesn’t satisfy. I’ve tried to be the athlete, the smart one, the knows-everything-about-the-Bible one, but none of them hold up.
A lot of these aren’t really bad things, but the problem is, they aren’t Jesus.
Because truly, “the grace of Christ is the only good ground for life. Products named after Christ don’t seem to do much for those who buy them.”
Jesus is everything. He is all you need. He’s better than anyone else. He loves you more than anyone else. He knows you deeper than anyone ever will. He created you. He died for you. He loves you. He’s enough.
So let’s strive to be like Jesus, not because we have to, but because we want to.
There’s no one better.
He’s all you need.
To steal the title from Tullian Tchividjian’s book:
Jesus + Nothing = Everything