Is It Possible To Become Like Jesus?
BECOMING LIKE JESUS “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the
BECOMING LIKE JESUS
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
No one would deny that the greatest achievement of all for the Christian is to become like Jesus Himself. Since the only thing we truly carry out of this life with us is our character, wouldn’t it make sense to strive to look more like Jesus than anyone or anything else? Still, most who attempt to be more like Jesus have more excuses for why they are not, than examples of how they are, and they show no real aim in the attempt. One of the biggest excuses you will hear is that it is just impossible to be Holy, especially in the world we live in today.
Surely, God can’t really expect us to achieve that status, that being Holy, when we are just ordinary people with dispositions of a particularly secular nature, along with all the passions of the world. Even if some do expect it, don’t they know that in reality, it is impossible?
Or is it?
In the verse above, Paul said, “We all” … WE ALL. It is actually every Christian’s destiny to be changed into the image of Jesus. Regardless of what we think. Regardless of what we feel. Even regardless of what we may perceive to be true in our flesh.
Perhaps to understand it best, we should look at Exodus 34:29-35:
“And it came to pass, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregations returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai. And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.”
Paul had spent time reading this part of the Scriptures, seeing that everyone who saw Moses were dazzled by the way his face shone after being in the presence of God. Furthermore, they recognized this as the glory of God Himself on the face of Moses. They had as much trouble looking straight into Moses face as we might have in trying to look into a mirror that is reflecting the sun.
Paul notes that this is the very process through which we can become like Jesus. When we come into His presence with our faces unveiled, when we deal with the Spirit of the Living God, we take on a little bit of His glory as well. What is that glory? It is His Character. Every time we come before Him, or think about Him, or reach a new level of realization in or about Who He is, our heart in turn reflects a bit of that character, that glory.
The best part is that the glory is no longer confined to the skin of the face, as it was for Moses. Paul wants us to know that this is a spiritual glory, brought about by Jesus’ spirit on our own spirit. The very whole of who we are becomes changed, from glory to glory, more and more, into the image of Jesus.
It’s Simple, Really
However, you might be saying this particular method of sanctification is just too simple. If you were to go to a priest, a friend or some other person that you regard highly in the spiritual sense, you might be instructed to spend great amounts of time reading books, doing particular works or attending church at a regular and set time every week. While all of these things certainly have their place, and are very good for the believer, Paul says to do away with such nonsense that these will make us like Jesus. We live in a very real world. And as it should so happen, Jesus lived in a very real world. He did not seclude himself from others for any reason, other than to pray in earnest.
There is still another way to look at this mirror analogy and how it affects us as humans. For instance, if you are walking down the street and someone runs in front of a moving vehicle, you yourself will jump back as if you are the one in danger. If you were to see someone fall from a tall building, crushed in the end, your own face would take on the same expression of pain, reflecting what’s happening to that person.
On the other hand, if you spend some time with someone who is stronger and more spiritual than you are, you leave that situation feeling a bit stronger yourself. Why is that? It’s because you actually are a mirror. Your very nature is to respond and to reflect these things.
Paul tells us we must learn to carry the very image of Jesus with us. We should adore Him, love Him, consider His ways and in time, we will become conformed to that image we have learned so well. It sometimes works the same way in families where the children mimic the parents and, from one degree to the next, become like their parents. The intimacy in which they truly know their parents reflects in their own words, actions, deed and yes, even their way of thinking. So it is when we spend ample time with Jesus, learning to know Him in an intimate way.
Missing the Reflection
In the same way that we lose sight of our reflection when we move away from a mirror, so it is when we fail to have a conscious memory of Jesus and who He is. We are less apt to reflect Him as we head out into the world, in whatever endeavors we have to undertake. Soon, the day simply overtakes us and we think nothing of Jesus’ character or how to reflect it in our own lives. Instead of losing sight of him, we should learn to how to carry Him with us always, making Him our constant Companion.
There are those who will say this is an impossible feat. But consider this: what happens when we have to be separated from someone we love dearly? Have you ever had that happen? Perhaps being separated from a spouse or a child or parent. What happens to you during these times? I’ll tell you. We think about them constantly, and their face is almost continually in our mind. We think about the things they like, things they have said and the way they act in certain situations. If we happen to be doing something that person might not approve of, it’s almost as if we can see their face and hear them criticizing the thing, whatever it is.
It works the same way with Jesus! If we truly love Him and recognize that He has done more for us than anyone else ever could, we will give Him the same place in our minds, the same reverence that is truly due Him. Once we truly find ourselves in that kind of relationship with Him, it will be nearly impossible for Him to be anywhere other than constantly on the throne of our heart. He can be a constant companion of even the busiest businessman or even the busy homemaker, and everything in between:
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21)
“Jesus answered and said unto them, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23)
Things We Need To Do
In addition to making Jesus our constant companion, we also have to, in a manner of speaking, square up with Him. Consider what it’s like if you look into a mirror that is not level. If you aren’t looking directly into a mirror, you simply won’t be able to see yourself. Whether you see the reflection of something awful, or something beautiful, it doesn’t matter. The fact still stands that you cannot see yourself in a mirror that isn’t square with you.
It works the same way when we are out of line with Jesus. We won’t reflect Him, but something else entirely. Many are brought up in the Christian Church and they all know to pay at least some attention to Jesus. They understand the advantages of it and the excellence of who He is. But simply paying attention to the Savior will not cause us to become like Him.
If we truly want to be like Him, we have to become entirely His. For instance, if you were to go into the studio of a famous sculptor, do you think he would hand over his tools and allow you to finish one of the most important pieces he’s ever worked on? You’d better believe he wouldn’t. It is the same way in our being fashioned by Jesus. We must belong entirely to Him. When we allow ourselves to be fashioned by the world, instead of by Him, we become marred and reflect things other than Jesus.
So, what happens to us when we reflect those things that Jesus doesn’t approve of? What is it that causes us to respond differently, giving place to the world instead of to Him? Is it the way something tempts us, or the idea of worldly gain? We are quick to speak out against those who live 100% for fleshly gain. However, the fact is that anytime we respond to the flesh ourselves, we are getting closer and closer to the picture of that lifestyle we speak so vehemently against. It’s easy to disagree with and despise greed, selfishness and pettiness. But the more we respond to the things this world has to offer, and lay aside what we know to be true of Jesus, the more like that person we speak against we are becoming!
Of course, in reality, we know that. If we were to be questioned about it, we might even respond with the very Scripture that backs it up:
“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:8)
In essence, Paul is saying, if you’ll just set yourself square with Jesus, you will become more and more like Him. If you make Him your everything, and become completely honest with Him, you might be more apt to ask him to fashion you according to His will, to lead you according to His will. You might ask Him to do with you as He pleases as you put yourself in complete submission to Him. You will possibly even learn to desire nothing past Jesus Himself, nothing the world has to offer you.
Becoming More Like Him
It is in this kind of love, this kind of reverence and this kind of submission that you will find yourself becoming more and more like Him. Any Christian who has truly given themselves to this way of life will tell you it’s not as hard as some might think it to be. Those who think it is a hardship and that life will become restrictive and less fun, simply do not understand the intricacies of a truly submitted life. No, it is only when we truly submit to Jesus that we realize what true freedom actually is:
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
A life truly surrendered to Jesus is a life in which you are afraid of nothing, anxious about nothing. No one is ever made worse off by becoming a sole possession of Jesus.
As our opening verse stated, we must come with an unveiled face. The truth is, if you throw a towel over a mirror, there will be no reflection of anything at all. The thing that stands before the mirror may be completely beautiful and awe-inspiring, but a veiled mirror will offer no sign of such a thing.
Why is it, that in some church services, one person can be lifted up so high as to experience the King in all His splendor in the spirit while the other is left envying his neighbor. How is it that two people can live in the same house and one, over the course of time, begins to see Jesus in everything, while the other becomes sad and indifferent? It is simply because one is veiled and prevented from seeing Jesus, and the other lives without such a veil.
Finding Him Everywhere
How was it that the psalmist David found God in everything? From mountains, to seas, to the changing of seasons. He even said that if he made his bed in hell, he would still find God:
“If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.” (Psalm 139:8)
It was because his face was ever unveiled before God. He was continually on the look out for God, and made preparations to meet Him everywhere, and in everything that he did. So how is it that we can come into the house of God and be more mindful of some other thing, some friend or some problem, than with the very presence of Jesus in the midst? It remains the same thing: we are content to wear a veil, instead of unveiling in preparation for meeting Him.
At this point, we might be asking ourselves, “What is this veil that I wear? What is it, in particular, that keeps me from responding to the perfection of Jesus?” We know His character is absolutely perfect. We know how we should respond to it. We know that there should be an eagerness to the possibility of becoming like Him. So why don’t we do it?
In reality, that veil is simply the dimness of the mirror. The presence of Jesus Himself is more than able to dry it off and remove the incrusting that has been growing on it our entire lives. Even if that mirror seems impervious to a reflection of Jesus. But how can these hearts, that have marinated in worldly perspectives for so long, ever reflect such perfection as that of Jesus?
What is it we find when we truly look at our hearts? Some things, we know, have no right there. Some things we find there, we know they are wrong and have no place. How, then, can we be cleansed to reflect Jesus?
This is how; we have to stay before Jesus until the all the shame of those things comes into subjection to Him. We have to allow His purity to work through all the obstructions in our hearts. And after it has been cleansed, we have to work to maintain that cleanliness by never allowing these things to settle there again.
On the other hand, it may be as if some people don’t have a veil over the mirror, but rather a lack of silver behind it with which to cast a reflection. The character is so shallow and thin that everything good seems to simply pass right through. They hear in one ear, and it goes right out the other ear. No impressions, or so it seems, can be made on them because there is nothing to work with. These people seem to be completely indifferent to anything of a spiritual nature and don’t even seem to think about their own character.
What can be done for these people? The fact remains, that God is the greatest Teacher of all time. In His own providence, He made much out of even those who seemed at one time, shallow and superficial. He will, in much the same way as an artist, sculptor or painter, finely work out each details, in His own time, so that the finished product is more than capable of a label of “fine art”.
We should never look at our own friends, or even the world as a whole, with hopelessness. We have to believe that Jesus has all power in heaven and on earth:
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18)
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” (Colossians 1:16)
As Christians who know this to be fact, and have experienced it for themselves, there is an expectation that this very fact will be communicated to others as well. The same faith and gives strength, and elevates the spirit can truly be communicated, with prayer and work, into the hearts of others.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name be the glory
Because of Your love and your faithfulness!