To Be Like Jesus

Becoming like Jesus is the key to a fulfilled and happy life. 

Jesus is the KEY to Life. He is the eternal full expression of God. He is God in visible form.  

Everything in Scripture points to Christ and everything in Creation also points to Him:

“All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”(John 1:3-5).

Jesus Christ does not only enlighten the mind with righteous understanding but also works in us the ability to overcome darkness and evil. Jesus Christ gave us everything we need to live above the decaying nature of this world. Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (1 Pet 1:1-4)

Jesus Was and Is The Perfect (Holy) Man!

Man was created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27) The Creator designs all things “good” (Gen. 1:31), and “beautiful” (Eccl. 3:11). His goodness oozes from us when we commit our focus upon Him. We are the most beautiful people when we mostly live and act like Jesus. The character, values, rational, ethics, habits, attitude and lifestyle of Christ is not just a standard but the standard, guide and plumb-line to live the most meaningful and fulfilled life. 

The Apostle Peter encourages us from His epistle:

“Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written: “Be holy, for I am holy.”” (I Pet. 1:13-16 NLT).

Jesus not only lived a holy life but intentionally demonstrated a lifestyle of worship to the Father. His spirituality, temperance, emotional intelligence and virtues gives us a glimpse of what pleases the Father as audibly expressed at Jesus’ baptism:  

“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.””(Matt. 3:16-17 NKJV).

The Practical Standard For Soul-Health

His thoughts, values, habits, character and approach to life, are the practical standards for a healthy life.

Jesus Christ is God, the “Word made flesh”, the sum total of all things, the eternal glory and physical form of the Godhead (John 1:14). Christian religion has a bad name, but it is not about the Person of Jesus Christ. It is our misrepresentation of Christ that has given Christianity a bad name. Jesus, the Son of Joseph and Mary, of Nazareth in Galilee, mostly referred to Himself as the Son of Man. Whether one believes in Him or not, He is still the most precarious person who has ever lived.

No other human being has ever touched or influenced humanity more than He has. No other human being has received more writings about Him. No other person has had such a huge impact on humanity in just three years of recorded public life. 

I am repeating the same premise over and over in a different way but please get it!! We are the best people when we are most like Him, when we do what is right, follow His ethical and moral example, pursue His immaculate character, and dedicate our lives to serving mankind. Living like Jesus is the best way! He is our universal truth, the point of departure, the blueprint and the basis for life. Christ is the only perfect, blameless, godly standard and anchor of morality.

Beauty: The Outcome of All Spiritual Activity 

Whether you have had an esoteric mystical experience like Paul (he does not say his name when he was taken up in the third heaven) or whether you simply discovered new meaning in a scripture verse, all this should make you sound and look more like Jesus. Our character, attitude, values, way of thinking, lifestyle and identity must synchronize with Jesus. The focus of prayer is ultimately to become more like the One we converse with.

Living in a conscious awareness of His nearness evokes constant praise. But God does not need our praise. Praise is God’s tool in our lives to shape us to be like Him. You become what you focus upon, worship and adore. Our constant intimate connection with God is also in harmony with other pilgrims and family members seeking oneness with God.

Accountable fellowship with passionate believers and regularly attending a vibrant church family is also essential to sustainable spiritual growth. Preaching, admonition, correction, discipleship and teaching are all aimed at shaping us in the image of Jesus.  All of the Church’s activities should centre on guiding and influencing people to become more Christlike. 

The success of a ministry is therefore not only the size of the crowds and the splendour of the buildings, but the extent to which people begin to live and act like Jesus. The more we become one with Jesus, the more we will become one with each other and the world will believe that we are of God. (John 17:21)

Misty Edwards’ song, “A Beautiful Heart”, tells how perfect and pure Jesus’ heart is: 

“There is no shadow of turning in You
No rebellion or pride
You don’t know greed or envy or strife
Your intentions are pure and holy
Delighting to do the Father’s will
You don’t have a thought against Him
But humbly You live in perfect restraint
Waiting for promises given
Jesus, You have a beautiful heart
You’re gentle, You’re meek,
yet Your heart is strong
Jesus, Your gladness is contagious
You are not selfish,
You can’t compromise
You are the truth, You can’t lie
You don’t hold a grudge or have a cynical eye
Bitterness has no part of You
But You’re quick to forgive,
let me back in again
Your kindness is so liberating”
[1]

God ultimately wants all His children to have a beautiful heart like Jesus. The more we conform and transform to become adapted to these Jesus attributes, the more we find fulfilment in our own purpose of creation (Col. 3:2). Truly our lives are hidden in Him.  This is reverse psychology at its best – instead of focussing, dissecting, and analysing self to find your true value and purpose, you direct all your attention to first know Him.  The more you study, research, and discover who Jesus is, the more He will reveal your true identity and direct your steps.

We were created with the potential to be like Him, else why were we made in His image? When you make a chair in the image of a particular chair, the obvious purpose and potential of the second chair are locked up in the original chair.  

This Jesus potential in every human is perverted by sin.

Scripture is clear. We were created to be beautiful like Him:

  • To be dedicated to God (2 Tim. 1:9).
  • To be His children (Eph. 1:5). “Children” speaks of: descendants; like Him; image-bearers; the same character traits. Children reflect the characteristics of the parents.
  • To be holy and blameless before Him (Eph. 1:4). Holiness is therefore not a kind of self-driven piety, but rather an awareness of the Holy One’s presence.
  • To unite everything under one head, namely Jesus (Eph. 1:10). 

Jesus is perfect theology. Perfect theology is to live under the overall rule of Jesus Christ. We glorify God best when we live and act most like Jesus. The more my life comes under His rule, the more I reciprocate and reflect His character.  Jesus is the perfect will of God. 

Jesus Already In Us

Many religious folks try to imprint “their Jesus image” on others instead of uncovering the imprint of Jesus that is already there.  

However, this original Christ image is violated by this sinful world we are born in. The more we are exposed to sin and begin to participate in it (eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), we abdicate our royal status in creation as God’s representatives on earth.  

Our free will to rule over impending carnality and chaos is exchanged for slavery to sin. Just like looking into a broken or warping mirror, Jesus’ true image is distorted in us.  

Rebirth: The Path of Devotion

Just as there is wickedness or sin in every human being (Rom. 3:23), so there is an imprint of Jesus in every human being (Rom 8:29). Our daily inner battle is choosing which image inclination to follow.  Most people devote more and more of their time and human faculties to sin (False Image of Christ) and satan over time (Rom. 6:15-23), as sinful human nature has a default inclination towards rebellion. Thus, we became children of satan, dedicated to doing his will. However, when we repent and turn around, the path of devotion to God begins. 

The sinful nature is not merely a choice. We are born with a spiritual disease in this world (Eph. 2:3). Therefore, we must be “born again” to retrieve our divine nature (John 3: 3; 1 Pet 1:23).  When the Holy Spirit recreates our complete being, God again takes His rightful place of dominion in our lives and teaches us to live according to His blueprint – His original purpose for us in creation.

The destruction and devastation that occurs when we live against His will is clear. Just look at what a broken, horrible place the world has become because people live according to their own counsel, decisions, and choices. Sin scars your body, distorts your soul, and devastates your family. 

The opposite is also true: when everyone lives according to the Jesus code of conduct and values, it will be heaven on earth. It will be a world without ambition, bitterness, revenge, hatred, selfishness, self-righteousness, self-enrichment, greed, laziness, racism, egocentrism, injustice and disobedience.

As naturally as sin comes to the person who has not yet been born again, so naturally and spontaneously holiness comes to the born-again person. Paul gives a touching explanation of this occurrence in Romans 7:19: 

“The good that I want to do I do not do, but the bad that I do not want to do I do.” 

However, the opposite happens to the born-again believer: we sometimes think of doing bad things, but when it comes to the act, then we spontaneously do the right thing. For instance, I find it hard to forgive someone, but when the person is standing in front of me, I want to forgive the person. Our nature has changed (2 Cor. 5:17). We are united with God, and He now lives through us as we allow Him. We are on a journey, a path of devotion in His grace.

His Nature, Our End Purpose

This means that the end goal of all the gifts and work of the Holy Spirit is to produce the nature and life of Christ within us. The fullness of the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the character of Jesus Christ. The fuller I am of the Spirit, the more I will reveal the nature and character of Jesus. Paul reiterates these standards to the various churches he was ministering to:

“My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19) 

“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.  To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.” (Col. 1:28-29) 

“For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:2)

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)

“For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:8)

“Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13).

“…idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” (Gal. 5:20-22). 

Holiness is, therefore, not how eccentric, weird, and different I can be, but whether I reveal the nature, heart and person of Jesus. Holiness means that I am full of God’s presence! When you spend a lot of time with someone, especially if the person has a very strong character, you start to sound, talk and look more and more like that person. 

Our humanity spontaneously mimics the strongest character to which we are exposed. When Jesus refers to the fruit we bear, He refers to God’s characteristics in our lives.  Like Him we should create and imagine GOOD things! 

No one has the “Copyright” of Jesus

The reality of the Jesus life is a universal principle, and the church does not have a “copyright” on Jesus – the people who have made the most lasting impression on mankind over the centuries were the ones who lived the most according to Jesus’ life. 

Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and Ghandi received a State funeral for their lasting positive legacy to mankind.  Although Ghandi did not have an intimate relationship with God as Christians would profess. His life made the greatest impression on mankind because he was willing to live radically according to some of the principles of Jesus’ Life. 

It is sometimes quite sobering to admit that many people who are not active professing Christians and churchgoers surely act and live like Jesus in certain facets of their lives. Again, Jesus’ way of life is the best way to live this life, yet many people find Jesus outside the walls of the church.

The Cost of Living the Jesus Life

Now that I have hopefully got you convinced to turn your life to Jesus and make Him your ultimate goal and purpose, I have some REALITY truths to declare!

It is impossible to BE LIKE JESUS!  This is a strange twist in the Jesus narrative, is it not? Let me explain: This is the mystery of the Jesus Life: You cannot imitate His life and try to divide it into steps like a self-help guru. His life will cost you your life: Shane Claiborne, the leader of the Red Letter Followers of Christ movement exclaimed: “I know there are people out there who say, “My life was such a mess. I was drinking, partying, sleeping around; and then I met Jesus, and my whole life came together.” God bless those people. But for me, I had it together. I used to be cool (I was prom king, for heaven’s sake). Then I met Jesus, and He wrecked my life.” Of course, Shane meant it, that according to modern, consumerism, secular world standards, he had a life, but this life was meaningless to God! Jesus wrecked this self-centred life in exchange for a God-centered life!

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.“” (Matt. 16:24).

His lifestyle is in direct contrast to the lifestyle and deepest motivation of the world. The world centers all things and activities on serving, pleasing, and justifying the self – the ego. 

Matthew 5 to 6 are the most difficult chapters in the Bible to do practically! Every act discussed and commanded here costs you everything. It costs you your rights, your dreams, your ambitions, and your own will. Everything! This is why so few people reveal the true character of Jesus, because although we sometimes do right and do good, His life is only possible once we make a total surrender to deny ourselves.  

This tension between praising Jesus and actually obeying Him explains why so much of contemporary Christianity has lost its moral authority and spiritual credibility. On Sunday, contemporary Christians are eager to worship a crucified Savior who loved and forgave His enemies. But on Monday, we want permission to behave like the schoolyard bully who uses fear and anger to get ahead.

SKYE JETHANI – What If Jesus was Serious?

His life is counter-self.  

  • If you want to lead, you need to serve.
  • If you want to have, you give.
  • If you want to fight, you make peace.
  • If you want to take action, you first find rest.
  • If you want to please God, seek first His righteousness.
  • If you want to be known, embrace obscurity.
  • If you want to have authority, learn to obey humbly. 
  • If you want to live, you abandon and forget self. 
  • If you want to react to evil with evil, we do good and bless. 
  • If you want to make war, make peace instead.

No Middle Ground

This list is in stark contrast to what the self wants to do. Therefore, every human being must come to the place where you must decide: Do you believe in Jesus or not? Are you going to live His life or not? There is no sustainable middle ground. Compromise and half-measures work briefly but do not withstand the test of time and persecution. 

Some may try to do good things to win the approval and prestige of people, but when persecution and tribulation come their way, self-survival and vindication rise to prominence. Someone who loses his life in Christ Jesus shines brighter under pressure. In hardship and storms, His life shines brightest in us! 

Through the ages, many saints have lived this life, and even today, their lives shine His glorious light! Lives of self-sacrifice. They did not consider their lives precious, but were willing to obey God above all else. Their lives beckon us to complete this journey with them. 

The surrendered life

One of the primary character traits of someone who no longer tries to be like Jesus is the absence of self-effort. 

Yieldedness is the testament of a soul filled with contentment, humility, faith, and nobility. Selfless people are immovable in what is right and true while being gentle, loving, and full of zest for life and passion. They are agreeable and comfortable with themselves while being joyful and happy, filled with inner peace and tranquillity. In times of conflict or challenge, they are more sensitive and active towards human needs than their own. These are people who testify of Jesus through their actions. Their maturity of character allows them not to live reactively when in opposition but rather take the initiative to reveal His way of doing things.

This life does not come through human effort. Becoming mature according to God’s standards is not in human nature. O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. (Jer. 10:23). 

This only happens when we actively, by faith, receive His life:

  • Humbly lay down our own lives and receive His life in faith (Gal. 2:20). 
  • Intentionally count and reckon ourselves dead (Rom. 6:11). 
  • Obediently deny ourselves in our daily lives as living, holy sacrifices to do His will (Rom. 12:1). 
  • Patiently wait on Him to teach us His way. The Holy Spirit comes to show us the way and leads us into His truth (John 16:13). 
  • Are teachable to forgive our enemies and persecutors, to set free and bless those who have robbed us, and to pray for those who abuse us (Luke 6:28).

Paul summarizes this life in 1 Cor. 4:10-15; 2 Cor. 4:8-18; 2 Cor. 6:3-10; 2 Cor. 11:23-28:

●      Bless when you are scolded

●      Tolerate when you are persecuted

●      Comfort when you are slandered

●      Be very patient

●      Live His righteousness by living right by purity

●      Through knowledge

●      Through patience

●      By the Holy Spirit

●      Through sincere love

●      Through the Word of Truth

●      By the power of God

●      Through the armor of justice.

Paul is showing us here that in every crisis, he has received a divine answer and strategy to overcome and stand firm. He is never a victim of bad circumstances, but through Jesus’ way of life, he has found answers to overcome every challenge. 

All these attributes and actions are not WORKS but GRACE.  You can actually not DO any of these spiritual acts through human effort, zeal, energy, or determination.  Someone who is so fortunate to experience any of these spiritual graces will heartily acknowledge it is not ME. It is HIM.  It is all a gift, a grace, and a power that He works in us! 

Taking Up Your Cross

Following Christ is not for everyone. It’s not a popular type of feel-good religion. On the contrary, it has nothing to do with religion! Jesus’ life is not a religion but a revelation of who Jesus truly is. 

It is a life of self-denial, daily “taking up your cross” (Luke 9:23) as you learn to obey Him. 

So, what should we do if we cannot be like Jesus? The secret is proximity! He wants us to spend a lot of time with Him because then the transformation takes place naturally and spontaneously.  Joshua became second in charge and took over the leadership of Moses because he remained close. He spent more time in the tent of meeting than any other. (Exo 33:11)

The Consequence of Denying Christ

If we follow Christ but resist taking up our cross (selfish motives), we are deceiving ourselves and ultimately projecting our own view of the image of Christ onto ourselves and others.

The statements, “what-would-Jesus-do” or “be-like-Jesus”, are based on a false assumption. Man, in his humanity, does not have the natural ability to be like Jesus. However, we certainly have the potential, the predestined purpose of creation, to be like Jesus (Rom. 8:29). 

It is impossible to follow Christ to an outward standard of good moral values without knowing and loving Him from experience, consciously, emotionally and spiritually.  The outward manifestation of being like Christ is not the focus of our spiritual formation. When external forms of behaviour become most important, the process will fail, and we fall into deadly legalism.  

Christians should not focus on being like Jesus. Christians need to focus on being with Jesus. This is what Jesus taught: 

“He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).

Although Christian conduct is the litmus test of true Christianity, we must understand from the outset that He brings about “Christlikeness” in believing, obedient people. Oswald Chambers said, “Everything I do must be based on perfect unity with Him, not on my own determination to be holy.”

How To Become More Like Jesus?

No room for Spectators

The only way to receive the blessing of His life is to live Jesus. Therefore, you cannot receive it from someone else. He Himself is the source. Otherwise, we eat again from the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”. No one can do it for you and pay the price on your behalf. You must give up your own life and receive His life in faith, just like He did for you. Only then does He work His life in you:

“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” (Col. 3: 9-10).

Covenant Exchange

You accept His life as your own. You are, as it were, acknowledging Him as your new identity. To strive to be like Him remains a reaching, like a carrot on a stick in front of a donkey’s nose. Striving is not enough. It’s like New Year’s resolutions that never materialize. No, the glorious covenant exchange must take place: you accept His life in FAITH for your life; I am buried with Jesus and He is resurrecting more and more in me every day as I obey Him in faith. 

Here is a song I wrote about the GREAT EXCHANGE

I give you my brokenness
You make me whole
I give you my tiredness
You give me strength
I give you my shortfalls
You perfect me
I give you my sickness
You are my healing

(Chorus)
You are my righteousness
My source of strength
You are my righteousness

My new life in Christ
I give you my rejection
You embrace me as you own
I give you my unbelief
You give me your faith
I give you my failures
I can do all Things in Christ
I give you my turbulence
You give me rest
I give you my blindness
I can see with new eyes
I give you my weakness
You make it possible
I give you my sins
You make me holy
I give you my curse
You bless me richly

The more I become aware of Jesus and focus on what He already has done in me, the more I become like Him. How do you get the air out of a glass? By filling it with water. How do you overcome sin in your life? By being full of Jesus. Our focus is not sin but Jesus and the work He did for us on the cross. We, therefore, always seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, not our own (Matt. 6:33).

To be like Jesus is completely impossible for man. If I think about all the characteristics of Jesus, I do not know where to start! Thank God that the Holy Spirit guides us and helps us in all truth how to exchange our life for His. He is our Guide for each day so be open to be lead. He gives us daily instructions and leads us to trust Him. For each of us, He gives relevant commands and instructions because He is with each of us on a journey to the same goal – Jesus. 

As we hear and obey, it sometimes feels as if we also want to ask like Jesus: “Let this cup pass from me, Lord!” However, He cultivates the ability and grace in us to carry out the commission; as we do so, we experience a glorious resurrection. 

The enabling power of grace is not given once but is the powerful continual working of God in us daily (Phil. 2:13). How do you know if you are living in grace or not? You know that it is not you but grace. You have tried and failed a thousand times, but this time, He does the work. It’s not how hard you try but how hard you believe in His work in and through you. In your weakness, He is becoming stronger.

The Journey of Divine Purpose

Whether you are already a follower of Jesus, or feel attracted to becoming a follower, know that it is a journey with a Person. We all love the endings of a story; Jesus would rather have us focus on the journey, not the end.  None of us have fully attained His glory; we are all still in the process of walking and remaining close to Him, and that is enough.  

May the pieces of revelation of light in this study guide invite you to see the Light for yourself! 

Jesus helps us to mark, see and live our divine purpose. 

My prayer for you, the reader, is with Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians: 

“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”(Eph. 1:17-18). 


[1] https://music.apple.com/za/album/beautiful-heart/1298136896?i=1298138053

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