The Second Week of Lent, Sunday

Christlikeness

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  — Philippians 2:5-11

The English author and theologian, John Stott, said, “There can be no life without the life-giver, no understanding without the Spirit of truth, no fellowship without the unity of the Spirit, no Christlikeness of character apart from His fruit, and no effective witness without His power. As a body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead.” Christlikeness of character comes when we are yielded to the Holy Spirit, when we allow the Spirit to mold us into the image of Jesus Christ. This is not a matter of imitation, of reading Scripture and then trying to be like Christ. This is a matter of trusting God to transform us, ridding our lives of that which is not of Him, and instilling in us His character, His Spirit. C.S. Lewis, in the book Mere Christianity, said, “Putting on Christ…is not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; and it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity. Christianity offers nothing else at all.”  Putting on Christ, becoming Christlike, is “the whole of Christianity.”

We see a wonderful example of this in Acts 4:13.  Peter and John have been arrested for preaching Jesus Christ in the Temple.  The elders sent soldiers and the two were taken prisoner before the High Priest. “Now when [the elders and High Priest] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” The goal of this transformation into the image of Christ is that our lives, like those of Peter and John, would manifest Jesus to the world.  But what does this Christlikeness look like?

In the passage quoted above, St. Paul says that Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant…”  To be Christlike is to take on “the form of a servant.” Jesus declared this to His disciples as He issued His call to the twelve. “And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all’” (Mark 9:35).  We are to be remade in His image, taking the form of a servant.  We are to take on the characteristics of Christ Jesus.  Again, not trying to imitate Him and remake ourselves into what we think that He should look like, but allowing Him to make us become like Him.  As C.S. Lewis said, “putting on Christ…is the whole of Christianity.”  

When the whole Body begins to seek Christlikeness then we will have a sound structure, sturdy walls for the Temple of God. We will all be pursuing the same goal, singing the same tune, and striving for the unity that comes from being one in Him.  A.W. Tozer, in his book The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine, said, “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”

This week we will look at the virtues characterized in the servanthood of Christ.  When Christ begins to remake us in His image, and we become more and more Christlike, the walls of Jerusalem can begin to be rebuilt as one unified whole.

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