Christian Counseling: Becoming Like Jesus

Sometimes I listen to the O'Reilly Factor on Fox News. Today, I am borrowing the words he uses to start each show--"Caution, you are about to enter the no spin zone." In other words, what you about to read is not edited for your comfort, tamed for easy reading or spun so I will be liked. Without apology or reservation, this is the hard truth as I see it. 


What most any Christian would tell you is people who are sincere about their faith do their very best to follow the example of Jesus Christ; to become like Him. But lets take a closer look and reevaluate the extent to which the majority of Christian Americans are living like Jesus. 


Perhaps your first  thought (defensive? You decide.) is, "No one is perfect, so there are going to be many significant differences between any Christian's life and that of the Perfect One." Call me cynical, but most Christian Americans are so far from living out the earthly life of Christ that the surrounding unbelievers don't see much of Him in their lives, and I confess, all this applies in good measure to me as well. It may be hard to see in yourself or believe it to be true, but read on, and determine for yourself what differences exist between your life and His earthly life. For me, coming to this truth is one of those defining moments in life where everything changes; when the lights go on, truth grabs you by collar and disequilibrium is a matter of heart, not the ear. It creates an immediate, unforgettable experience that fills every pore with the revolutionary truth that you can never return to the way you lived life before knowing. You have passed a point of no return. Those moments come unpredictably and often accompanied by fear, but I must say, they are life to me. I believe in giving up who I am today for the person I might become tomorrow. Yet, it is uncomfortable to say the least.


Who is Jesus of the Bible, really? Meek, always in peaceful control, never flustered, stoic, dispassionate, humorous, serious-minded, a hard man and God with high expectations and demands, a critical parent looking to point out your faults, just kind, always forgiving everything, a keeper of the law or is it more important to Him to be a keeper of relationships? Because He committed no sin could He really understand the feeling of guilt or lack self-esteem? Since He knew God, talked with God and was God was His faith ever really challenged? Was He tempted by romantic love or sexual desire? The list of questions could go on for there are many things that we will not absolutely know during our lifetime concerning His life. His actions at times seem contradictory and sometimes incomprehensible. Being God He is without limit, boundless and beyond understanding. We can only know some things about Him. So, any attempt to become like Him has serious limitations. 


There are very, very few passages reflecting the live of Jesus that cannot be summed up in one potentially life-changing word. Of all the descriptors of Him I have ever heard, there is one that stands above the rest; one that is obvious, that we must model if we are to honestly say we are like Him. It accompanies most every characteristic of His and is the background and foreground of His life. See if you can discover that word through reading of Scripture, a few of which are presented here:


Matthew: "'do not resist an evil person'" (5:39); "'love your enemy'" (5:44); "'when you give to the poor, don't let your left hand know...'" (6:3); "'Do not give what is holy to dogs or cast your pearls before swine'" (7:6); "'Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in Your name...cast out demons...perform many miracles? And then I [Jesus] will declare...'I never knew you, depart from Me...''" (7:22,23); "'I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves'" (10:16); "Jesus...on the Sabbath...began to pick heads of grain...the Pharisees...said...'not lawful to do on a Sabbath'" (12:1,2); Pharisees ask Jesus,"'Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders...'" (15:2); Jesus says divorce is permitted in the case of adultery but not the 1,000 other reasons people added to the law. "The disciples said to Him, 'If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.' But He said to them, 'not all men can accept this statement'" (19:10,11); To their faces, He labels the scribes and Pharisees by repeatedly saying, "hypocrites...fools and blind men...serpents...brood of vipers (23:14-33); "'I was hungry...thirsty...a stranger...naked...sick...in prison [and they did nothing for the people and indirectly for Jesus]...These will go away into eternal punishment...'" (25:41-46)  and "'My God, My God why have you forsaken me?'" (27:46).   

Luke:  "''To you [disciples] it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand''" (8:10); "'The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head'" (9:58); "'...none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions'" (14:33); and "And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and his sweat became like drops of blood, falling upon the ground [stress related disorder--hematidrosis]'" (22:44).


These few examples reveal the life He lived was radical. It takes great courage to consistently give up what we have and who we are to live the life Jesus modeled--RADICAL. 


If you want to be more like Him than you are presently, I suggest searching for two other willing people, discuss what a radical life looks like and support each other in fulfilling that role, which God asks of all His followers. That is part of our cross--to choose boldness over safety, truth over socialized politeness, and revolution over a comfortable peace. This time, call me seriously cynical, but I seriously doubt there will be many takers, maybe 1%. That means if less than one hundred people read this blog, no one will take up the call. Living radically is just too radical! Jesus said that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom. I believe it is that difficult to think for oneself and choose a radical life; that is, for those who are tamed by Christianity, accustomed to having their desires and needs fed, unknowingly fall into living a prosperity gospel existence and/or adhere to Christian American cultural expectations of how to live a godly life.


How much do you really want to be like Jesus? How much do I? Will you ask, "What is enough to get by on? Or will you take the attitude, "I'll never settle"?



 

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