A. God wants us to be like Christ
This is his
- eternal purpose – we have been ‘predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son’ (Romans 8:29).
- historical purpose – ‘we…are being transformed [or changed] into his image’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
- eschatological purpose – ‘we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him’ (1 John 3:2).
Here, then, are three perspectives: past (we have been predestined), present (we are being changed), and future (we shall be like him), which all point to the same thing: that God wants us to be like Christ.
B. In what ways are we to be like Christ?
We are to be like him in his incarnation. Of course, the incarnation was in once sense unique and unrepeatable. But, according to Philippians 2:5-8, we are very definitely called to imitate his humility as the incarnate Son of God.
- We are to be like him in his service. Jesus performed the service of a slave for his disciples, and left this as an example for us to follow (John 13:14f).
- We are to be like him in his love. His love was costly, for it took him to the cross, as Ephesians 5:2 makes clear. We are to love with Calvary love.
- We are to be like him in his patent endurance. Christ endured suffering, leaving us an example to follow (1 Peter 2:18, 21).
- We are to be like him in his mission. Our mission to the world must resemble that of Christ, John 17:18; 20:21. He immersed himself deeply in the world, without being corrupted by it. So must we.
C. What are the consequences?
- Suffering is part of God’s process for making us like Christ. This is clear from Romans 8:28f.
- Christlkeness is the key to successful evangelism. People will begin to take notice of our message when we look like the Christ we proclaim.
- Only the Holy Spirit can empower us to be like Christ. And this is why the Holy Spirit has been given.
Based on Stott, The Radical Disciple: Wholehearted Christian Living, p32f.