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Never “Christ-Like” Again…


Will you join with me in expunging from Christian discourse the desire for “Christ-likeness?”  Despite popular Christian bantering there is no value in becoming like Christ.  Plain and simple—you can’t be like Christ.  You can’t!  Remember the garden?  Isn’t trying to be like the Divine what got us in this mess in the first place?  Listening to the serpent, eating the fruit so that we could become like God—Don’t eat the fruit of “Christ-likeness”—it is rotten!

Jesus didn’t come to this earth to make us Divine—like Him.  He came to make us human—fully human.  We have all been drinking the Kool Aide and believed that we are living human lives now.  We are not human!  I am not human!  Take a look around at the humanity that we see.  Have you seen what passes as entertainment these days—the Kardashians!? Really???  Have you turned on the news?  I’m horrified at how far we have fallen.  Parents are raping their own children.  Have you been in my head to hear what I think?  How about your thoughts?  We are not human—we are less.  I am not human—I am way less!  This is why we call it The Fall.  We didn’t fall from divinity.  We fell from humanity.  We are less than human.  If only I could live out Human Nature.  I am squarely stuck in Fallen Human Nature.

BUT…By the Grace of God, Jesus stepped down from His throne and came to restore us.  The Incarnation is the mystery and the hope of a God who picks us from the sewer of fallen humanity and washes us clean in the Blood of the Lamb.  His death and His resurrection is our redemption.  So, don’t try to be “like” Christ.  Instead, become little christs.  Christian doesn’t mean “like-Christ” it means little Christ.  This is Incarnation.  As Len Sweet has said, “we aren’t called to impersonate Jesus, but personate Him.”  Not so that we can be “like” Him.  But so each of us can be a “little” Him.  Perhaps you’ve heard it said, ‘you might be the only Bible some people read.’  Well, you might be the only christ that some people meet.  And this only makes sense because of an empty tomb.

Let me try to explain.  I have next to zero musical ability.  I can almost hold a tune—almost.  If my mission in life is to play “like” Bach—I would crash and burn like that fallen satellite.  I can’t be like Bach—or any other musician.  However, because of the power of the Holy Spirit and for the sole fact that Jesus is alive—the incarnation is not over!  That means I can count on Jesus to come help me play my instrument.  He plays it with me!  That’s what makes it sound beautiful—Him!  The Lord is still active, alive, and at work in the world.  And He still wants you to participate with Him in that work.  In our falleness, none of us can play like Bach.  None of us can be like Jesus.  Instead, and because He is still alive, what if we viewed our lives as being like the Blessed Virgin Mary?  What if your participation in God’s mission was to carry Jesus and bear Him into this world?   Make your life the 5th Gospel.  Live in such a way that your life tells the story of Jesus.  How can you be a little Christ?  Not that you are trying to be like Him—but that your life is a witness to the fact that He is still alive and has chosen you as His dwelling place.  “Christ-Likeness” is a burden that we cannot carry.  Being little christ’s is a holy calling, a testimony to the tomb that could not contain Him, and an opportunity to join Jesus by allowing Him to play the instrument that He made you to be.  Don’t worry; you don’t have to save the world.  You don’t have to be like the One who saved the world.  Stop impersonating Him and start personating Him—He wants to make you sing!


7 Comments leave one →
  1. Preston Foster permalink
    12October2011 09:36

    Thank you for the re-awake-up-call. It’s the FOURTH DAY! Today.
    We all make our life the 5th Gospel “According to me.”
    The only question is whether I’m writing it / trying to write it / or whether the author is writing it in, with, under, and through me.
    For today I will tell His story.

  2. 12October2011 09:53

    I beg to differ. Your statement, “So, don’t try to be “like” Christ. Instead, become little christs. Christian doesn’t mean “like-Christ” it means little Christ.”, while attesting to Christ’s singularity, seems a hedge against the hopeful striving toward which we are called. What then did Jesus want when saying, “Take my yoke upon you.”?

    • 12October2011 11:20

      Thanks Thomas. Disagreeing is fun. I think Jesus said take my yoke upon you means–let me carry it for you–don’t try to be like me. Be a little Christ–don’t try to be like Him cause I can’t. Take my yoke is Jesus’ gracious presence to come and carry our burdens. He carries it–He carries me! It is Christ who strengthens me–not my ability to be like Him that gives me strength. Jesus comes to you–that is the incarnation! And He can do it because He is still alive!

  3. John permalink
    12October2011 11:54

    I agree with your overarching point – that of focusing on Christ’s work and not our own. It is far more important to understand that Christ works through us and that we do not do the work of Christ. That point is a great point and I get that.

    However, I think you are guilty of taking and twisting the other perspective to try and make your own point. I also think you are in danger of ignoring scripture to make your point as well.

    It is very difficult to take what you state in this blog entry and make it jive with Philippians 3, specifically the tenth verse. Paul specifically says “becoming like Him in His death.” The Greek word used there is symmorphidzo (sorry for the transliteration). The word is typically translated as “to take on the likeness” or more plainly “to become like.” Literally, the word means “to transform (morph) with.” I think that is pretty clear Biblical evidence to become “like Christ.” At least, it is for me.

    Furthermore, I think there is great Biblical evidence in doing things like Christ has done for us. Romans 15:7 tells us to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.” Like Christ. Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us to “therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” We are to imitate God. (Greek word mimetes, from which we get our word mimic) What does it mean to be a child of God according to this verse but to imitate Him! Furthermore, verse 2 tells us that we are to love like Christ loved us. Again, Like Christ.

    I can go on – especially in Ephesians alone. But I hope I have made my point. There is good scriptural reason for being “like Christ.” To tell people that being “like Christ” is rotten fruit is going against scripture in my book.

    I get your point, I accept your point. But I fear that in making your point you are in danger of being blind to the fullness of what Christ is calling us to to.

    • 12October2011 15:04

      Thanks John for the comment and the challenge with Scripture. You don’t write about expunging the “like Christ” thoughts without some good challenges. I won’t respond to everyone of your scripture references, I’d rather if readers would do some homework themselves, like you have done, and let them draw their own conclusions–so, again, thanks for the dialogue.
      I will state that much of my post was in response to the events in the Garden. Gen 3:4-5 “You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'” I also see the burden that we have wrongly been laying on ourselves and the people we influence in our challenge to be like Christ. This is a burden that we can’t possible bear–it is not Good News.
      You point to Philippians 3 as a place where you see evidence in favor of being like Christ. Yes, I can’t deny the word study. But as I read the whole chapter, the whole book in fact–and as I exegete the passage, I see much more an emphasis on Christ living within us and Christ coming to us. Isn’t that Paul’s point in Philippians 3:4-8–He was among the most qualified to be considered “Christ-Like” and it counts as rubbish. It isn’t about us becoming like Him–It is about He, who humbled himself to be like us and now, on the other side of the grave comes to be with us still. Christ in you. Also, in full discloser, my Greek expertise has diminished, but as I look I see some alternate translations of symmorphidzo–namely to be conformed to or receive the same form as. As it says in the KJV (which we all know is how God spoke, right 🙂 ) The verse says this, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” Maybe you read conformable as “like” but I see it as something that is done to me–God working in me–God coming to me. Like-Christ vs little christ is a matter of the incarnation to me. Like christ is a heavy weight that I can’t carry. God indwelling within me to be a little Christ is a powerful force and a great responsibility that we bear because of the gift of the Holy Spirit to join God in His mission.
      I certainly don’t intend to ignore scripture or twist it to make my points–I don’t think I did–but that might just be my fallen human nature speaking 🙂

      • John permalink
        12October2011 20:38

        Thank you for your further explanation, and I do understand better now your response to Genesis 3. I can appreciate that certainly.

        For the record, I also totally agree with the “Christ living within” emphasis. Actually, within my congregation I take it one step further – Galatians 2:20 is my personal mantra (or 2:19 depending on your translation). “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Now that’s good stuff. When I say I need to be “like Christ” I am talking that verse right there. I am saying that God has called me to give sacrificially of who I am – like Christ gave of himself – so that God can take over and make it His own and not mine. And for the record, I’m pretty sure if I define that to be “like Christ” is to “consider oneself dead for the sake of humbling oneself to God’s will” I am confident that you would agree that this is a good thing. So no worries there.

        I just wish you could have made your point (which is tremendously valid) without having to put down a legitimate line of thinking. Because if to imitate God is to be His children and to be “like Christ” is to consider oneself dead for the sake of follow God’s will, sign me up!

        Thanks for the chance to ponder God’s word with you, brother.

      • 12October2011 21:31

        Good to wrestle with the Word with you as well, my friend! I just wrote a newsletter article for the congregation about listening to Jesus/reading the Word in surround sound–a different way to explain paradoxes. Perhaps I didn’t follow my own advice in the surround sound. But it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if I don’t overstate things some times. Thanks for keeping me honest! Peace.

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