[Please note that this post is ‘the introduction’ to a series titled “Christ-likeness“]
“For the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you as it is written” Romans 2:24
“I love your Christ but I hate your Christians; your Christians are very much unlike your Christ” – Mahatma Gandhi.
“If I had looked at the character of those who were professing Christians around me, I would never have given a thought to becoming a Christian. They cursed and fought both Christians and non Christians, they were very different from the Lord Jesus I have now come to know.” – Janet O.
In a world that is broken and desperately in need of remedy, great expectations abound whenever someone claims to present a remedy. For Paul, Gandhi and Janet quoted above, what should have been the remedy was made unattractive by the conduct of those who claimed to be ambassadors.
It is clear from the words of Lord Jesus that the fruit (attitude, character, conduct, behavior, lifestyle) of His followers is the legitimate way of telling who His disciple is. The fruit a tree bears tells whether it is a good tree or a bad one. When we see oranges on a tree, we can be sure the tree is an orange tree.
But what if the fruit that should be the attractive quality of the tree is the repelling factor? What if that tree produces thorns as its fruit when all the while people have been expecting oranges? Such a situation generates great disappointment, disapproval and rejection. It is not a light thing when the light in the darkness has lost its light.
Lord Jesus asked a question. If the salt has lost its saltiness, where can it be made salty again? We remember that the Lord had earlier stated that His followers are the salt of the earth. He went on to say that such a perverted salt is cast out and is trodden under the foot of men (Matthew 5:13). What a terrible condition to be in.
Furthermore, Lord Jesus stated also that believers are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). In addition, He spoke about the opposite experience; if the light in believers turns out to be darkness, then that darkness is exceedingly great (Matthew 6:23). What a pitiable and offensive state, emanating darkness when you should be a source of light.
It is not a small case when believers are known for unChrist-likeness. This is like the case of a very hungry man who approaches a covered dish only to find out that it is full of sand and stones. Can you imagine the anger and frustration that man would experience? In a similar way, when the world thirsts for living water and all they find is a parched ground in those who claim to be followers of Jesus, one can imagine how it goes…terribly.
What the Father wants is that all who have been adopted into His Family are conformed to the image and likeness of His Firstborn Son- Jesus Christ. Sometimes, believers struggle with walking in the flesh which is at variance to conformity to the Spirit, but God is Faithful who is rich in Love and Mercy towards all. However, struggling with unChrist-likeness is not the rule but the exception. This means that the normal life of the believer is Christ-likeness, however, any form of unChrtist-likeness is strange, abnormal and God has provided a propitiation for our sin, Jesus Christ, not so that we may continue in sin but so that we may rule over sin as Jesus rules…and this Jesus lives in us.
But what does it really mean to be Christlike? What does the Master Himself say about this?
Continued in the next post.