Christianity 201

July 3, 2013

Looking Like Jesus

John 14:9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Today’s post is from thinke (the e is for eternity) the blog of Matt and Michelle Brown. You’re encouraged to visit. The original post title was What Does It Mean To Look Like Jesus?

The ultimate goal of every Christian is to look like Jesus. What I mean by “look like Jesus,” is not in physical appearance, but to follow Jesus in both the big and small areas of their lives, in order to be the blessing that He was on earth, and to receive the blessings of obedience to and pursuit of God.

This is what we all want, but so few of us feel we are progressing at the pace we’d prefer.

One the biggest challenges in striving to look like Jesus is starting with the wrong picture of what it means to look like Jesus

For many years I personally thought that being “radical” for God meant being really intense with myself and others, praying for exhausting amounts of time, sacrificing as much as possible simply for the sake of denying myself as much as possible, and other self inflicting practices that would ultimately lead to looking more like Jesus. To me back then, “zeal” was the epitome of what it meant to look like Jesus.

I thought this because of role models I held in Bible college, many of whom I now see were clearly poor examples of Christlikeness. I remember reading passages in the Bible back then about the importance of a Christian having compassion, love, kindness and scratching my head wondering why I was not seeing these in my role models or myself – it was starting to dawn on me that God had a different picture of Himself than I had of Him.

Larry Osborne in Sticky Teams shares a similar sentiment: “Spiritual maturity is a life that consistently exhibits the character of Jesus Christ. This means character – not giftedness, not Biblical knowledge, not zeal. And that shouldn’t surprise us, since some of the most divisive and self-centered people in our churches are those who are highly gifted, know the Bible inside and out, and exhibit a zeal that puts the rest of us to shame. They just happen to also be jerks.”

I can’t stop thinking about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 lately. God has given us a clear filter of what it means to look like Jesus in all areas of our lives:  in our thoughts, actions, words and relationships.

Is what we are saying or doing filled with a whole lot of love, whole lot of joy, whole lot of peace, whole lot of patience, whole lot of kindness, whole lot of gentleness? If not, it’s probably not of the Spirit. Scripture tells us “when the Holy Spirit controls our lives,” we will show these things in increasing measure.

The fruit of the Spirit in your own life is what helps you be fruitful in the world.

God didn’t just give us this clear picture of what it means for us to look like His Son, and empower us by His Spirit to do so, so that we would be a bland personality in the world. The fruits of the Spirit are not simple cardboard cutouts that we learned about in Sunday School, but powerful life traits that have the ability to transform every aspect of our lives and relationships, and give us success wherever we go.

These are the aspects of Jesus that we need to hold up as a standard for our own life. These are the characteristics that we need to rejoice in when we see them in our gospel-centered communities and role models. As we allow the Lord to transform our hearts, we pray that we will grow in these traits and see them more and more active in how we act and react to those on our daily path. 

This is what I want more of in my life. I hope you do to. I think it will really help us.



March 17, 2012

God’s Measure of Success

Today’s post by Blake Coffee is from a website I strongly recommend those of you in church leadership bookmark and visit often, The Church Whisperer.  Today’s thoughts appeared on that site under the title The One Test Your Church Really Must Pass.  Again, you’re encouraged to the articles here at their source, but since stats show some of you don’t or won’t, it’s also below.

 This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand.  And the LORD asked me, “What do you see, Amos?”

   “A plumb line,” I replied.

   Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.  Amos 7:7-8

There are a lot of ways to measure the “success” of the church today, a lot of standards from which we can draw.  I suppose which standard we use will depend on who we are trying to please at the time.  Whether they will admit it or not, our people most often use their own comfort level as the standard for judging whether or not we are “getting it right”.  Our denominational entities likely would care about our level of “support” for their programs and, more importantly, their budget.  Our communities would measure our effectiveness by how much assistance we offer them.  And you and I?  Oh we probably count noses in gathered worship or baptisms last year or variance from budget or some other such objective, measurable standards.

Please hear me when I say that, as far as I am concerned, all of those standards are fine measurements of some aspect of our effectiveness as a church.  I really have no qualms with any of them.  Each of them, it seems to me, has a right place in our strategic planning and in our “doing church”.  

Similarly, I suspect that, during Amos’ time, the people of Israel had some objective, measurable standards for their own version of church and worship and honoring God.  I also suspect that, like the church today, they were knocking it out of the park by some of those standards.

But from God’s perspective, they were failing miserably.  When God placed His plumb line up against what they had built, well, there was a problem.  You see what happens when we lose sight of the perspective that matters most?  There are a lot of ways to measure or evaluate a wall.  You can test its thickness to make sure it meets those specifications.  You can measure its height or its width and find both to be admirable.  You can test the weather-proofing of the exterior material or the finish of the interior and determine that either or both are just fine.  But when you hold a plumb line up to it and find that it is leaning horribly in one direction or the other, none of those other measurements mean much.

Your church may be like that.  It may be pleasing to your members, or to your denomination, or to your community, or even to you…but if it does not measure up to the plumb line of God’s Word (which, for the New Testament church, is Jesus), then it is failing.  And while we are working to please all those other people and measure up to all those other standards, it is easy to lose sight of the one that matters most: what does Jesus think of our church?

~Blake Coffee

What standards do you think God is looking to see attained where you worship?

February 18, 2011


When you see a lovely orchard
With its trees so trim and neat
And the branches heavy loaded
With delicious food to eat;
Don’t just take it all fort granted
That this happened just to be,
For there’s always lots of labor
Long before the fruit you see.

Trees have gotta be well planted
And their tender roots are fed,
Then the water and the spraying
And the sun from overhead;
Then the prunin’ of the branches
Till at last for all to see,
Ready for the time of harvest
Yielding fruit abundantly.

Somehow people are like orchards
When they’re saved by grace divine;
And whose only one ambition
That their lives for Christ may shine.
First they must be firmly planted
With their roots deep in the Word
And to grow in grace and knowledge
Of the Savior and the Lord.

After this then comes the prunin’
This is where so many fall;
For the saint this operation
Seems the hardest of them all.
Yet like all those lovely orchards
That can stand without dispute,
You and I need times of prunin’
If we’re gonna bear good fruit.

~Walt Huntley

from Homesput Gospel: The Poetry of Walt Huntley (1981)