Called to be like Jesus – part 4, the way of the cross

Richard Burgess, 11.04.2021

The greatest destiny on our lives is the call to be like Jesus. Doesn’t matter your background or your role, it applies to all who come to know Christ. God has predestined each one to be like his Son, Jesus.

In part one we looked at the call to be like Jesus, in part two, the part that healing and deliverance plays in Christlikeness, part three, the importance of inviting Jesus into every room, in this blog we are looking at the importance of living a cruciform life in order to become like Jesus.

A cruciform life is a life shaped by the cross. The Christian life involves death and resurrection. It is an ongoing principle of the Christian life, a life where power is experienced in our weakness, something contrary to the way of this world. This is not positive confession. This is not about being my best self. This is not about self improvement or self preservation. Jesus said, “He who would save his life will lose it, he who loses his life for my sake will save it” (Matt 16:25) . Paul talked of dying daily so that the life of Christ might be manifest in us and through us “We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body” (2 Cor 4:10)

Dying to self. Many, if not most Christians, start out with two identities, theirs and Jesus, and the larger one tends to be theirs. It’s what we call the self-life. And if there’s one thing God wants to confront in our lives it’s the self-life. It stops the life of Jesus coming through. When everything is focused on the self we get disappointed, angry, wounded, frustrated… In order for new life to appear, self must die.

C. S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, “But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away “blindly” so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.”

How many of us are concerned about our own personality? How many of us are only too aware of the self? How many bemoan our personality and spend time looking for a better one? Lewis’s words are so true, and need to be taken to heart.

Dying to a perfect world. This is more of a challenge for the perfectionists. Dying to a world where everything is all tickety boo, where everything is all nice, neat and tidy. Where everything happens at the right time, in the right way. The fact is we live in a war zone, and life in the Kingdom is messy. We live in the now and not yet, and you are part of it. Things happen when you don’t expect them. Trials come along uninvited, unplanned. You can wait for a better day, but it will never come until you learn to live in the now. The context of that most well known verse, “All things work together for good…” applies right here in our being predestined to be like Jesus (Rom 8:28). Trials will come, difficulties arise, how we respond to them will impact who we are.

Dying to my agenda. Serving God is not something we do at our own convenience, when it fits my agenda. It involves cost. How often have we tried to manipulate God to our agendas, deciding what to do and asking God to bless it. It happened in scripture, it happens today. God is not there to serve us, we are here to serve him. Jesus left the glory of heaven and took on human flesh for us, more, he laid down his life for us on a rugged Roman cross – not one nicely planed and polished to make it more comfortable. Scripture says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Phil 2:5-8) .

Resurrection. What we can be sure of is that in all of our dying to self, there will always be resurrection where we will experience the inflow and outlow of a different kind of life, a life filled with God.

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