The Christian walk is a journey of transformation, as believers strive to become more like Christ. The call to follow Christ is a call to obedience, as we seek to imitate His character and His love. However, there is a danger in this pursuit of Christ-likeness, as we can be tempted to conform to cultural and societal norms and lose our unique purpose and identity in the process. This article will explore the importance of resisting the power to imitate Christ and how it affects our Christian walk.
The Call to Follow Christ
The call to follow Christ is a call to obedience. As believers, we are called to imitate Christ’s character and His love and to live in a way that pleases Him. This call to follow Christ is not a call to conformity, but rather a call to authenticity. We are called to obey Christ in our own unique way, using the gifts and talents that God has given us.
However, in our pursuit of Christ-likeness, we can be tempted to conform to cultural and societal norms. This can lead to a loss of our unique purpose and identity, as we try to fit in with the world around us. It is important to balance obedience with authenticity and to stay true to who God has created us to be.
Romans 12:2, says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” This means that as believers, we are called to resist conforming to the patterns and values of the world. Instead, we should allow our minds to be transformed through the power of God so that we can discern and fulfill His perfect will for our lives. This transformation enables us to live in a way that reflects God’s goodness and acceptance, bringing glory to Him.
The Danger of Conformity
The pressure to conform to cultural and societal norms is strong, and it can be difficult to resist. We may feel the need to fit in with our peers, or to please those around us. However, when we conform to the world around us, we risk losing our unique purpose and identity.
As Christians, we are called to stand firm in our beliefs and to resist the pressure to conform to the world around us. This requires courage and strength, and a willingness to be different. It is important to remember that our identity is found in Christ, and not in the world around us.
2 Corinthians 6:17-18 says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” This means that believers are called to separate themselves from the ways of the world and avoid participating in sinful activities. By doing so, they can experience a closer relationship with God, who promises to be their loving Father. This passage emphasizes the importance of living a holy and righteous life in accordance with God’s will.
The Importance of Individuality
God has created each one of us with a unique purpose and identity. We are all different, with our own gifts, talents, and personalities. This is a beautiful thing, and embracing our individuality and using it to glorify God is important.
In the body of Christ, each person has a role to play, and each person is important. We are called to use our unique gifts and talents to serve others and to build up the body of Christ. When we embrace our individuality, we can make a powerful impact on the world around us.
The Power of Comparison
One of the dangers of trying to imitate Christ is the temptation to compare ourselves to others. We may look at other Christians and feel like we are not measuring up, or like we are not making enough progress in our spiritual journey.
However, comparison is a trap that can hold us back from our true potential. It can lead to feelings of inadequacy and insecurity and hinder our spiritual growth. Therefore, it is important to focus on our own journey and to trust that God is leading us in the right direction.
Striving to Become Like Christ
While we need to resist the power to imitate Christ in an unhealthy way, it is still important to strive towards Christ-likeness. This requires intentional spiritual growth, as we seek to cultivate the same character and love that Christ demonstrated.
We can do this by spending time in prayer and studying God’s Word, and by following the example of other Christians who have gone before us. As we grow in our relationship with God, we will naturally become more like Christ.
Again, in our pursuit of Christlikeness, we must remember that we cannot on our own selves serve God satisfactorily. The reason is that our flesh is weak but our spirits are willing as the Bible says in Matthew 26:40-43. Sometimes, we find ourselves doing things that go against our beliefs as children of God. These actions may cause inner conflict between our spirit and flesh, as our spirit knows it is wrong but our flesh desires it. That’s why it’s important to have the presence of the Holy Spirit within us to help us resist these temptations.
The Apostle embodied “Christ-likeness”
The Apostle Paul referred to this when he said, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (Romans 7:14-20)
Therefore, we need the Holy Spirit to dwell within us to overcome our sinful nature and earthly cravings. The Holy Spirit will provide guidance, teaching, leadership, and protection against the temptations that we face. The Bible corroborates this by saying in Romans 8:14 that “those who are led by the spirit of God are the sons of God”. So, no one can truly serve God without having His Spirit inside of them.
Staying True to One’s Purpose
In our pursuit of Christ-likeness, it is important to remember our unique purpose and identity. We are not called to be carbon copies of each other, but rather to use our individual gifts and talents to serve God in our own unique way.
We can do this by staying true to our purpose and by using our gifts and talents to glorify God. It is important to balance our desire to become like Christ with our individuality and to remember that our unique contribution is valuable.
The Role of Community
Christian community is an important part of our spiritual journey. We need the support and encouragement of other believers and to be in relationships with others who can help us grow in our faith.
However, it is important to balance community with individuality. We should not feel like we need to conform to the expectations of others in our community, but rather we should use our unique gifts and talents to serve and support others.
The Danger of Legalism
One of the dangers of trying to imitate Christ is the temptation to become legalistic in our approach to the Christian life. We may become focused on rules and regulations, rather than on the heart and character of Christ.
This can lead to a judgmental and critical attitude towards others, as we become focused on outward appearances rather than on the heart. It is important to remember that the Christian life is not about following a set of rules, but rather about developing a heart that is fully devoted to God.
In our quest to become more and more like Jesus, we must abide by His words. In Mark 12:31, it says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love one another deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” And Matthew 7:12 says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Following these biblical teachings will help us overcome legalistic tendencies and cultivate a genuine spirit of love and compassion toward others.
By embracing the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves, we learn to prioritize kindness, forgiveness, and understanding in our interactions. This not only strengthens our relationship with God but also fosters harmonious relationships within our communities, promoting peace and unity.
As we strive toward Christ-likeness, it is important to remember the role of grace in our journey. We cannot become like Christ through our own efforts alone, but rather it is only through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we can be transformed.
We need to embrace God’s grace and allow it to work in our lives, as we seek to become more like Christ. This means letting go of our own efforts and trusting in God’s power to transform us from the inside out.
For this, we reference Proverbs 3 Verses 5 to 6: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
The temptation to conform to the world around us can be driven by fear. We may be afraid of rejection, or of not fitting in with our peers. However, as Christians, we are called to overcome fear and trust in God’s plan for our lives.
We need to remember that our identity is found in Christ, and not in the opinions of others. We can trust in God’s love for us and His plan for our lives, even when it means standing out from the crowd.
Fear is not of God. In fact, the Bible did say that fear has torment which means it can be destructive. Read 1 John 4:18-20 KJV – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” This means that if we are to love fully and completely, we must let go of fear. Fear is a hindrance to experiencing the true depth and power of love. By choosing love over fear, we can find peace and freedom in our lives.
The Power of Prayer
Prayer is a powerful tool in our pursuit of Christ-likeness. Through prayer, we can ask God for the strength and courage to resist the power to imitate Christ and to stay true to who He has created us to be.
We can also pray for wisdom and discernment, as we navigate the pressures of conformity and the temptations of legalism. Prayer is a powerful way to connect with God and to seek His guidance and direction in our lives.
The Bible admonishes us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Additionally, we know that Jesus told His disciples, ‘Pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’ (Matthew 26:41 NIV) In other words, Jesus emphasized the importance of prayer as a means to resist temptation and stay steadfast in faith. This instruction highlights the understanding that prayer serves as a powerful tool to seek strength, guidance, and protection from God in times of vulnerability.
The Example of Christ
In our pursuit of Christ-likeness, we can look to the example of Christ as our guide. Jesus demonstrated the perfect balance of obedience and authenticity, as He lived out God’s plan for His life in a way that was true to His unique purpose and identity.
We can learn from His example and follow in His footsteps, as we seek to become more like Him in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. We can trust that as we follow Christ, He will lead us in the right direction and help us to stay true to who He has created us to be.
Ephesians 5:1-2 King James Version (KJV) “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” To be an example of Christ in our world we must therefore embrace the qualities of love, selflessness, and sacrifice. We can spread kindness and compassion to others by imitating Christ’s actions and attitudes. This glorifies God and serves as a powerful testimony of our faith to those around us.
The Fruit of the Spirit
As we seek to become more like Christ, we can focus on developing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all qualities that reflect the character of Christ. (Galatians 5:22-26)
By cultivating these qualities in our lives, we can become more like Christ and make a powerful impact on the world around us. We can trust that as we seek to become more like Him, He will work in us to produce the fruit of the Spirit.
The Importance of Perseverance
Our journey toward Christ-likeness is not always easy, and we may face challenges and setbacks along the way. However, it is important to persevere and to keep our eyes fixed on Christ, even when the road ahead is difficult.
We can trust in God’s faithfulness and His promise to never leave us or forsake us. By staying true to who He has created us to be and by relying on His strength, we can persevere in our pursuit of Christ-likeness.
Christians must understand that temptation and or persecution must always come. But the good thing is that God will provide a way of escape for us during those times (1 Corinthians 10:13). It’s important to recognize that becoming a born-again Christian does not guarantee a life free from trials or suffering.
The only way to fully escape such hardships is by passing on and reaching heaven the moment you’re saved. However, this isn’t what God intends for us. Each of us has a unique purpose on this earth, and the challenges we face are a part of that journey. Trust that there is a reason behind what you’re experiencing now.
Therefore, “look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) In fact, the temptations and trials you face will help you to grow in your faith. God will deliver you from all trials if you remain obedient to His Word.
The Rewards of Resisting the Power to Imitate Christ
Finally, as we resist the power to imitate Christ in a harmful way, we can experience the rewards that come with living an authentic and Christ-centered life. We can enjoy a deep and meaningful relationship with God, as we allow Him to transform us from the inside out.
We can also experience the joy and freedom that come with living a life that is true to who God has created us to be, rather than trying to conform to the expectations of the world around us.
The act of worship is “Christ-likeness”
The good news though is that there is a reward for following Jesus. Philippians 3:14 says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” And in James 1:12, we read, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”
Final thoughts on avoiding the temptation to imitate Christ and aiming for “Christ-likeness”
In conclusion, the temptation not to imitate Christ can be a powerful force in our lives, but it is important to resist this temptation. Instead, we can focus on developing the heart and character of Christ, while staying true to who God has created us to be.
We can embrace grace, overcome fear, pray for wisdom and discernment, and look to the example of Christ and the fruit of the Spirit. Through perseverance and reliance on God’s strength, we can receive the power to imitate Christ and experience the rewards of living a Christ-centered life.
With godly desire comes the motivation to align our actions and choices with God’s will, allowing us to grow in faith and deepen our relationship with Him. We must therefore guard our hearts with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
As we seek to live a Christ-centered life, we also develop a heart of compassion and love for others, inspiring us to serve and positively impact the world around us. Finally, be imitators of God, as dearly beloved children. (Ephesians 5:1)
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About “Christ-likeness”
- Is it wrong to imitate Christ? While it is good to strive towards Christ-likeness, it is important to do so in a way that is authentic and true to who God has created us to be, rather than trying to conform to the expectations of others.
- How can I resist the temptation to imitate Christ in an unhealthy way? By embracing grace, overcoming fear, praying for wisdom and discernment, looking to the example of Christ, and focusing on developing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
- What is the role of legalism in our pursuit of Christ-likeness? Legalism can be a danger in our pursuit of Christ-likeness, as it can lead to a focus on rules and regulations rather than on the heart and character of Christ.
- How can I stay true to who God has created me to be? By focusing on developing the heart and character of Christ, and by relying on God’s strength and guidance in our lives.
- What are the rewards of living an authentic and Christ-centered life? The rewards of living an authentic and Christ-centered life include a deep and meaningful relationship with God, the joy and freedom of living true to who God has created us to be, and a positive impact on the world around us.