Becoming like Christ is a process. Are you up to it? It can be arduous and will take our entire lives.
24 Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. 25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways [away from My way] or stray into her paths [from the path of righteousness].
When we were saved, Jesus came to us and called us. He asked us to give Him our heart and life and to follow Him from now on. We said, “Yes!” From that point on, we were HIS! He picked us up, cleaned us up, dressed us up (with the robe of sonship along with sandals and the ring of sonship), and then He did something very special–as if He hadn’t done something special already– by signing adoption papers and adopting us as His children! He made us heirs and co-heirs with Jesus Christ! We Are Family!!!
15b the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba [Aramaic for “Daddy”], Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:15b-17
These sufferings that we are to share are wrapped up in the process of us becoming like Him. It’s part of the discipline of Christlikeness. We can study all we want and pray all the time, but it’s not until we are tested [in what we know] that we truly KNOW it. It is by experience that we gain perspective and camaraderie with Christ.
Jesus is getting us ready for His kingdom. He is also using us to reach out to a lost world and to minister to His family. He uses our experiences to shape us into His likeness. We strive to think like Him, act like Him, and ultimately to be just like Him. We will do whatever He asks (none of what I call “selective service” where we CHOOSE how we want to serve Him). We will go through whatever trials and messy circumstances that come our way knowing that He is using them to mold us into His image.
The picture at the top of this page is from Ron DiCianni and is of a man sitting on a pedestal and is being chiseled by God’s hammer and chisel. I would consider that process painful! Yet, it is necessary for the Artist to bring the “inner man” to the surface. Michelangelo was asked how he knew what to make out of the stone. He replied that it is simple; the person was already in there and he was just setting him free.
We, too, are on the pedestal of life, and God is using His tools–sometimes a hammer and chisel, sometimes emery cloth–to bring out the inner person, the one that looks just like Christ. He’s in there! We just need to allow Him to “work our salvation from the inside out (Phil. 2:12).”
So, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, let’s take joy in the fact that God is working everything out for our good and is bringing about our Christlikeness through those circumstances. Let’s revel in His companionship and guard it jealously. Instead of pining for the end of our trials, let’s lean into them and glean all we can from them in learning to be like Christ. Hang in there; heaven’s coming!
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:28-29
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling [from the inside out], for it is God who works in you to will and to act [the desire and the power] in order to fulfill His good purpose [for us to be just like Jesus]. Philippians 2:12-13
6 being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6