It should be the goal of every Christian to be “just like Jesus.” Though we realize that He was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 ), though we recognize Him as “founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 ), though we know that He is the son of God and that ‘all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isaiah 64:6 ), we hold the ideal in our hearts to be just like Jesus!
In his book, published in 1998, Max Lucado said, “My prayer for all who read these words is simple. May God open your eyes so that you can see Jesus. And in seeing Jesus, may you see what you are called to be.” (Just Like Jesus, p. XI). This is my prayer, as well, for all who reads these words. As Lucado says in his book, “God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.” (p. 3)
This article, and those that will follow in this series, are based upon a personal Bible Study that I had with a brother in the fall of 2007. That brother had taught and preached the gospel for years, had served as elder and had been a great influence. In the latter years of his life, during a time of failing health and difficult medical challenges, he was allowing a strained relationship with another brother to hinder his service in the kingdom. I encouraged him to get back to assembling together with his brethren, who needed him.
We used the Lucado book as a basis for our study and began to meet weekly in his home to discuss the ideas, passages and study guide questions. As we opened our study, we noted the contrast between the heart of Jesus and the heart of man. The heart of Jesus was pure, peaceful, pleasant, purposeful and spiritual. On the other hand, the heart of man is greedy, hassled, distracted, cranky, and earthbound. But by the grace of God we can be changed, we can be transformed (Rom. 12:2 ), we can be translated (Col. 1:13 ). Paul explains it with these words, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1Cor 2:16)” And in Philippians 2:5-8 , he told Christians: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Lucado asks a thought provoking question in the study guide in his book. Under the heading “Finding the Heart of Jesus,” Lucado asks, “What would change in your life if Jesus really did become you?” As I contemplate that question I think my answer would have to be that the people in my life would hear more about Jesus and what he can do for them. Discussions with people about their spiritual needs would be more a part of my life. I would not hesitate to ask folks that I meet, “Are you prepared for Christ’s Return?” Are you a Christian?” Where do you go to Church?” Do you get what you need there?”
He further asks, “Who would be surprised at the “new you”? Why? “Those with whom I work would probably be the most surprised. Though I live a morally upright life, I never seem to get around to the types of discussions that Jesus had with the woman at the well in Jn. 4:7-30.
And then he says, “Would you have ‘fences to mend’? If so, to whom do they belong?”
I have a tendency to form impressions and make judgments about people before I really know them. Rather than making the effort to get to know them, I may simply avoid them on the pretense that they do not fit into my “circle of influence.” The principle of “six degrees of separation”* may play out and I eventually am forced into a situation where I must get to know them. I may then find that my preconceived notions were entirely off base.
Another question that intrigued me was, “God wants you to be like him, but he does love you just the way you are. Describe the “you” that God loves. This brother had shared a quote with me when I visited him in the hospital prior to our study. He was reading The Tardy Oxcart, a compilation of quotations by Charles Swindoll. The quote was from Pamela Reeve’s book Faith Is, “Faith is resting in the fact that God has an objective in leaving me on the scene when I feel useless to Him and a burden to others.”
I told this brother that even though, I had not read Reeve’s book, I hoped that she went on to point out that God expects us to eventually work our way through that feeling of uselessness and the feeling that we are a burden to others. I believe he expects us to “bloom where we are” and to make whatever contributions that we can. Paul said in 2nd Corinthians 2:14-15, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in victory through Christ. God uses us to spread his knowledge everywhere like a sweet-smelling perfume. Our offering to God is this: We are the sweet smell of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are being lost.” I worked with this brother over a period of time trying to encourage him during a down period of his life. I challenged my dear brother, to think of the influence that he had been in the past and of the many people who had been touched by his teaching and preaching. Many come to know Christ or gained a deeper knowledge and understanding of Him because of this brother.
I further challenged this brother by asking him to join me in a Men’s Bible Study in the home of another of the members. I told him that just like the Boy Scouts needed him to give his story telling class and are willing to make accommodations to enable that, I was willing to pick him up and take him to the study.
*NOTE: “the idea that, if a person is one "step" away from each person he or she knows and two "steps" away from each person who is known by one of the people he or she knows, then everyone is no more than six "steps" away from each person on Earth.” (Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation)
Continue reading with me to learn more about this personal study I had some time ago with a brother in Christ. Next time we will examine the idea of Loving People - Just Like Jesus. …