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Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Be like Jesus!

One of the books on my Study shelves is entitled 'Imitation of Christ', written by one, Thomas à Kempis, in the early 15th century.  It is, in fact, a devotional book, in four parts, written in order to encourage believers to follow the example of the Lord Jesus, the Christ.

However, being 'like' Jesus may be interpreted in different ways.  There are some who would like to walk around in traditional Middle Eastern garb of 2,000 years ago.  Of course, even I am able to remember being told that the sandals I was wearing, many years ago, were "Jesus sandals"!

Then there is the notice-board outside the church building that read: "Be like Jesus; attend services regularly" - presumably referring to Luke 4:16 "And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and He went to the synagogue, as His custom was, on the Sabbath Day."

The songwriters don't like to be missed out, either!  I recently came across this little gem:

"To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus; all I ask to be like Him;
All through life’s journey, from earth to glory,

All I ask to be like Him;

To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus; all I ask to be like Him;
Not in a measure, but in its fullness,
All I ask to be like Him."


But does the simple emulation of an example; or an expressed desire to emulate, actually make one person like another?  Apparently Alexander the Great had a twist in his neck that caused him to carry his head to one side.  All of his courtiers tried to imitate their hero - but it didn't make any of them a great general!  

There is, in the heart of every true disciple of Jesus, the desire expressed by another song-writer:

"I want, oh, I want to attain some likeness, my Saviour, to Thee. That longed-for resemblance once more to regain; Thy comeliness put upon me."

But does the copying of the Master; the following of His pattern; make us more Christlike?  We surely must recognise that the disciple of Jesus is not a carbon copy, but a channel through which the risen Saviour must manifest His life!  The branches do not attempt to be like the Vine (see John 15). Rather, the life of the Vine flows through the branches.  His life in us, released and unhindered, produces a likeness to Him that is genuine.  Someone has said that "When we become citizens of heaven, we can claim Christ's resurrection life.  All that He achieved and won becomes ours - if we desire, receive, and use it."  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have [i.e. have, here and now!] eternal life." (John 3:16).

Are you allowing the Christ to live His life in you?   "... Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col 1:27).  And that 'hope' is not the vague uncertainty of Charles Dickens' character, Mr Micawber - the 'hope' that "something will turn up".  It's a certain conviction that the promises of God are true, and will be fulfilled.   What are you going to do about it?!

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