Monday, May 15, 2006

becoming like Jesus

I like a Rich Mullins song that expresses that it's hard to be like Jesus (find here words to Hard from the album, a liturgy, a legacy & a ragamuffin band). I have to agree with (Saint) Benedict, that living out this faith and becoming, is best done together, in community, with other Jesus followers (I picked this up from Scot McKnight's new book, Praying With the Church: Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, Today). This is what Rich Mullins did with the Kid Brothers of St. Frank (an evangelical version of a Franciscan order).

Notice in Rich's lyrics of Hard, that he doesn't water down what becoming like Jesus means. It's not some Americanized Jesus. Who is on the side of the political left or the political right. Or on the side of America or any other nation. Nor is it a Jesus in the image of any other worldly power or idealogy. It is no less than the Jesus of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John). The one who calls us together, to radical discipleship (see Dietrich Bonhoeffer), in turning the other cheek when slapped by an enemy, loving and praying for and doing good to our enemies, trusting in our Father's provision as we seek first his kingdom and righteousness in our lives, etc.

Becoming like Jesus involves a following which involves a focus on the goal. That goal is found in Jesus. It will be perfectly realized in God's kingdom to come. But it is to be pressed towards in the here and now. We're to press towards this mark, of the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus (like Paul- Philippians 3). We're to take up our cross daily, and follow Jesus (Luke 9), becoming like him in his death (Philippians 3).

This can involve finding where we're in pain. Because where there's pain, there's usually some kind of "infection" or trouble. What is getting to us is usually an obstacle that can become an opportunity for growth towards Christ-likeness. This can be in the form of being hurt at other's (especially other believers) that we perceive are mistreating us. This is hard. But we must repent of our reactions to it, whether public or private. And we must set ourselves towards the goal of becoming like Jesus. In this case it means a love that is redemptive in its aim. That is willing, in love, to cover over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). That seeks to become likeable in a Jesus kind of way, rather than mired in our own kind of way (note Proverbs 16:7). But regardless, shows love to the end, as Jesus did to his disciples and even to Judas (John 13; Matthew 26).

It is important to remember that the picture of the kingdom to come is to be our goal now, even as it is already present among us, in Jesus. Sure, we won't realize that goal perfectly in this life. Someday we will love one another deeply from the heart in a complete and ever growing sense. But we must follow after, no less than this as our goal, now, if we're to be truly following after our Lord. And I believe, as Francis Schaeffer once said, that we can experience substantial (not perfect) righteousness, holiness and love in this life. (Though we can know the perfect love of God, which drives out all fear- 1 John 4).

Lord Jesus. Let us truly be your followers. Let us see you more and more, by faith. And be changed more and more by the Spirit into your image in all of our being and doing. Keep our eyes on you, and our steps to follow you, even after we've gone astray, we pray. Amen.

4 comments:

Blessen said...

Hi... Loved reading about our Saviour in ur blog... Indeed... it's extremely tough to be like Jesus!!! In fact, if we can be just about 10%, then we should pat our back!!! God bless u... Keep blogging and spread the TRUE message of Christ!!!

John Frye said...

Ted,
These are some very compelling thoughts about "being like Jesus."
Well-written and provocative.

Ted Gossard said...

blessen,

Thanks for your good words. Yes, I can say I have a long way to go. But our goal is to really be becoming, by the Spirit, no less than like Jesus.

I think we have those seasons, when we especially sense how far we have to go. Not easy seasons for us, but surely necessary.

Ted Gossard said...

John,

It's great to hear from you. Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words.