God's promise for all who believe in His
Son Jesus Christ for salvation is eternal life with Him in Heaven.
Heaven is our eternal hope and our supreme confidence. Many
people believe that the goal of a Christian is to get to Heaven.
As Christians, Heaven is no longer our goal since, once we are saved,
we are assured of our salvation. "He who has the Son has life;
he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son
of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." 1 John 5:12-13. Throughout the Bible, our salvation, by grace through faith in Jesus
Christ, is described as something we have RIGHT NOW, not something
we "might get" or "could get in the future." We can trust in
the words of Jesus Christ himself, "I tell you the truth, whoever
hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and
will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." John
The ultimate goal of a Christian
is to become as Christ-like as possible in every aspect of our
personal walk with the Lord. To follow Jesus requires self-denial,
complete dedication and willing obedience. Jesus said, "I have
set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." John 13:15. It has always been God's plan for all those
that know Him to become like His Son Jesus Christ. "For those
God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness
of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." Romans
8:29. The Bible teaches that all those who turn to Jesus Christ
are being transformed by the Holy Spirit. "And we, who with
unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed
into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the
Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18. We become Christ-like
by following the example given to us by Christ. We follow His
example in the way we relate to our Heavenly Father and each
other. We also follow Biblical guidance as we govern our own
thoughts and emotions.
How do we achieve
a Christ-like relationship with our Heavenly Father and each other?
Jesus provided the answer in Mark 12:29-31. when He was asked
to identify the greatest commandment. "The most important one," Jesus answered, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God,
the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your
strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor
as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." We
are to follow Christ's example of love for our Heavenly Father and
each other. We should extend the love of Christ to everyone. "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't
show favoritism." James 2:1. The Bible teaches us what true
love is, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it
does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love
does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always
protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love
never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. The love of Christ is clearly
evident to everyone. As we strive to become more Christ-like,
the love of Christ should be clearly visible through us. In
fact, Jesus said people will know we are His disciples by our love. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have
loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will
know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35.
It's good to know that as Christians, we do not depend on our own
ability to grow in the Lord. The Holy Spirit is an active participant
and a source of power in our daily efforts to become more Christ-like. "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with
power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell
in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted
and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled
to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19.
We must humble ourselves before our Heavenly Father in order to prepare
our minds to serve Him. "Therefore, prepare your minds
for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to
be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children,
do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for
it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy'." 1 Peter 1:13-16. The Bible teaches that our very minds will be renewed. "Do not
conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed
by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test
and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Romans 12:2. We are also given guidance on the type of thoughts
that should occupy our minds. "Finally, brothers, whatever is
true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever
is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praise-worthy
- think about such things." Philippians 4:8. We cannot
have "The mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16 if we allow sinful things
to occupy our thoughts. The Bible is basically saying:
garbage in, garbage out. Every word from our mouths should be
evidence of He that is in us. "Do not let any unwholesome talk
come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others
up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
Ephesians 4:29. We cannot be Christ-like without the ability
to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. "Be kind and compassionate
to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave
you." Ephesians 4:32.
we will face difficulties because of our faith in Jesus Christ.
This should never deter us from sharing the gospel of our Lord and
Savior. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a
spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be
ashamed to testify about our Lord" 2 Timothy 1:7-8. If you have
Christ in your heart, you can be sure that, "The one who is in you
is greater than the one who is in the world." 1 John 4:4. We should never be ashamed of suffering for Christ. "However,
if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that
you bear that name." 1 Peter 4:16. Insults have no power over
us! "If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you
are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." 1 Peter
4:14. When we strive to be Christ-like we should love and pray
for our enemies. Jesus said, "But I tell you: Love your
enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons
of your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:44-45. He showed
us this could be done as He hung on the cross in our place and prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:34.
Our ultimate hope, our ultimate
joy, our ultimate glory comes from the things above, regardless of
our situation in this world. "Therefore we do not lose
heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we
are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians
4:16-18. We can be confident, whether in good times or bad,
that our Heavenly Father is working His righteous plan for our lives. "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." Romans 8:28.
To be Christ-like is to follow His example of obedience to the
will of our Heavenly Father. "Therefore, since Christ suffered
in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he
who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result,
he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires,
but rather for the will of God." 1 Peter 4:1-2. To be like Chirst
is not about trying to find out what God can do for us.
It's about discovering what God wants to do through us. This
does not mean that we do not have goals, but our first goal as Christians
is to desire and seek His will for our lives. We can hold to
the promise of Christ, "If you remain in me and my words remain
in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." John 15:7.
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that
if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know
that we have what we asked of him." 1 John 5:14-15. Christ's
greatest example of His obedience was demonstrated in a place
called Gethsemane when Jesus knew the time for His suffering and death
was near. He prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this
cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Luke 22:42. It's an expression of your faith in our Heavenly Father when you surrender
your will to Him, and He will bless you more than you could ever imagine! "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things
will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33.
Christian walk is about dying to your old way of living on a daily
basis and living for Christ and allowing Him to live through you. "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his
cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23. "And anyone who does
not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:27. It is not about treating people in a certain manner in order to get
the desired response. We show the love of Christ to everyone, regardless of how they treat us! "Do nothing out of selfish
ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better
than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your
own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your
attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" Philippians 2:3-5. The positive attitude we as Christians should have is not a result
of "positive thinking", which relies on the efforts of our own mind,
but rather the result of the power of Christ living through
us. "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced
that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for
all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but
for him who died for them and was raised again." 2 Corinthians
5:14-15. It's not about trying to control every aspect of your
circumstances in order to find happiness. Being Christ-like
in your Christian walk is about having the joy of Christ in your heart
so that the peace that passes all understanding will be with you always, regardless of your circumstances. "Rejoice in the Lord always.
I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness
be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious
about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transends
all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ
Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7.
with the Lord is a process that will last our entire lives.
The apostle Paul described it as running a race. "Do you
not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the
prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone
who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do
it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown
that will last forever." 1 Corinthians 9:24-25. Christ was completely
dedicated to the will of God. Let us pray for Christ-like
dedication. His love for the Heavenly Father and all of mankind
is a shining example for all of us. Let us pray that everyone
may see our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ living in us by the love
expressed in everything we say and do. "Therefore, as God's
chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each
other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues
put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one
body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let
the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish
one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and
spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever
you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord
Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:12-17.
"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live
a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us
as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1.