I don't know about you, but I want to become more like Jesus.
As a single person, I've developed a lot of habits that aren't very positive. I can indulge my selfishness at home, but sometimes I wrongly let it influence my relationships with others.
I can eat whatever I like, even if it isn't good for me. Sometimes I watch TV programs that are a complete waste of time.
Those don't seem like major problems, but on reflection, they also don't seem like things Jesus would do. The Bible tells us that he enjoyed a good meal and conversation with all kinds of friends. He told people not to sin, but I don't get the impression that he was a killjoy when it came to innocent fun Over the years, I've discovered an important truth:
To become more like Jesus, I have to become less like me.
That sounds scary. It sounds as if we have to give up our personality and individuality to imitate him. But that's one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith, because Jesus himself reassures us:
"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." (Luke 9:24)
If we want to understand that promise, I think we first have to recognize that what we think is the real us is not. We think that our personality, our quirks, our beliefs gathered over a lifetime make up who we are. We're too close, though. We can't see that much of us is simply wrong. It doesn't conform to the character of Christ and never can.
The only way we can become more like Jesus is to surrender our whole being to him in complete, unreserved trust, and ask him to do a major makeover on us.
As he removes those impurities in our character, we come closer and closer to the real us, the person God has always wanted us to be. We're losing the old life in favor of the new, holy life.
Unfortunately, sometimes losing parts of our character can be painful, like pulling a tooth we've become very fond of over the years. When I had my last wisdom tooth extracted about a year and a half ago, the oral surgeon showed this giant tooth to me after he had pulled it. It had a black spot on the side of it, a cavity that would have eventually become infected.
Some character traits we need to have extracted from our life seem harmless enough now, but in the future they could cause major problems.
Becoming more like Jesus isn't an overnight event, even after we're born again. No, it's a lifelong struggle. We grudgingly give up ourselves a bit at a time.
Some Christlike Christians see the wisdom in this early, so God has less sanding and carving to do on them. Others of us require work from every tool in God's toolbox to get us into shape.
We couldn't make these changes on our own. We have to turn control over to God. Even in our pain, though, we can see that everything we're losing is being replaced by something so much better.
We want God to make us more like Jesus up to the very moment we
die. When our physical life is lost, then our true, authentic life will