Richard Burgess, 12.03.2021
Life goals are a big thing, they give focus, shape and impetus to our lives. If you’re going to be an athlete you work on a whole host of things in order to run or jump, ultimately, to win. Likewise a teacher, a pilot etc…
God has a life goal, a destiny for each of our lives. In my last blog we looked at living in union with Christ, what it means to be in him and he in us. In this one we are looking at God’s desire for each one of his children, to be like his Son, more than that, it his destiny for each one of us, no matter our background, no matter the depths of sin and shame we’ve come from.
Predestined. Paul says in Rom 8:29 that God has predestined us to be like Jesus. In his letter to the church at Rome Paul unpacks the Good News of God’s, love, mercy and amazing grace to a lost and fallen humanity. He shows us how God is able to “justify the ungodly” through faith in Christ. That there is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ – and neither can there ever be! That they are no longer people of the Flesh, but people of the Spirit. Then after having unpacked all that he says, he has predestined us to be like Jesus – in other words He is not just the object of our faith, but also of our growth. That’s something! That’s God’s destiny for you, for me!
But how? We won’t get there by focusing on ourselves. Fallen humanity has an obsession with self. Perhaps today more than any other we are obsessed by self discovery, self improvement and self advancement. We are encouraged to be better versions of our selves. We are told to be true to yourself (whatever that is) – certainly not a good proposition!
In the process we are obsessed by our self-image. The advent of the mobile phone has not helped, according to Google we take 93 million selfies a day (on android phones alone)! The average person takes 450 a year! It’s all about image… looks, health, possessions…
Yet the sad fact is, that we have become more troubled than ever, according to research it destroys our confidence and raises anxiety. An interesting aspect is that though we like taking selfies, apparently we don’t like looking at others selfies. Maybe it’s because of comparison – their looks, their clothes, where they are, and how it makes us feel about ourselves.
Don’t look in and don’t compare. The Good News tells us we don’t find ourselves by looking in, but by looking out, looking away from ourselves unto Jesus – the gospel is not about improved versions of ourselves, it bids us come and die. Its about dying to self and living a brand new kind of life in Christ, a life focused on him. If we seek to become better versions of ourselves, we will never be happy.
We are called to be like Jesus.
Wrong ideas – the problem is we have wrong ideas of what that looks like. We think perhaps that being like Jesus is having a holier-than-though attitude, or being super-spiritual, or very religious, or being really zealous and intense. Larry Osborne in his book Sticky Teams says: “Spiritual maturity is a life that consistently exhibits the character of Jesus Christ. This means character – not giftedness, not Biblical knowledge, not zeal. And that shouldn’t surprise us, since some of the most divisive and self-centered people in our churches are those who are highly gifted, know the Bible inside and out, and exhibit a zeal that puts the rest of us to shame…”
An all compelling vision. To begin with then we need a big, glorious, all compelling vision of Jesus. One that grips us, one that inspires. One that transforms. Without out it we will never be changed.
So, what was Jesus like? I thought I’d just reflect on the gospels and what they say about Jesus.
• He was the glory of the Father, full of grace and truth.
• He was holy – remember, holiness in the Bible is something beautiful, wholesome, good.
• He was meek and lowly in heart.
• He was the embodiment of the fruit of the Spirit in all his attitudes and actions. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
• He was relational – he loved to be with and relate to people of all ages. He was never aloof.
• He was boundaried – he knew how to manage his life.
• He was a man of prayer.
• He knew the scriptures.
• He listened to and was obedient to the voice of the Father.
• He loved people and cared about them, and was full of compassion.
• He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil.
• He was a friend of sinners and forgave sins.
• He was a defender of the weak, and a lifter of those cast down.
• He was passionate about serving – He said he came not to be served but to serve.
• He was a life giver and enabler – “a bruised reed he would not break, and a smoking flax he would not snuff out.”
• He was also a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief – on hearing the news of the death of his friend Lazurus, John’s says, “Jesus wept.”
• He was anointed with the oil of gladness more than any other – he was full of joy!
• He left the glory of heaven and came here, taking the form of a servant, and poured out and gave his life that we might live.
He was in fact the most amazing person who ever lived! And God has predestined us to be like him!