“Christlike.” It is an interesting term and often a confusing one. To be “Christ-like” depends entirely on our definition of Christ. If we define Christ according to our preferences, then our preferences will determine what it means to be Christlike.
If we define Christ according to what Scripture says (all of Scripture and not just the parts we prefer), then that will determine what it means to be Christlike. Often people question the validity of Christianity because of the way some Christians act. When Christians are hypocrites, people point to that as a reason to reject the validity of Christ. A hypocrite is one who acts in ways that contradict their stated beliefs. But, “If followers of Jesus contradict their beliefs with their actions, this undermines their integrity and not necessarily their stated beliefs.”1
All that to say, I’ve been struggling to be Christlike this week. I tend to get drained when I’m around crowds and people. There are times I just want to get away from everyone and be alone. If I can’t get that “me” time, I get cranky and become less loving to my family and others. There’s nothing wrong with time alone, don’t get me wrong. But serving God is not always convenient to my schedule. Sometimes “interruptions” are the very moments God planned; “the good works He prepared beforehand so that we could walk in them.”
The Jesus of Scripture had crowds coming after him, even at times when Jesus wanted to be alone. Matthew 14 records for us that Jesus wanted to be alone when he heard of his cousin, John, being killed. He went to be alone and mourn, but the crowd followed. Instead of avoiding them or sending them away as I would have, Jesus had compassion for them and ministered to their needs, feeding them. After the crowd dispersed, he went to be alone and pray but in short order, the disciples found themselves in trouble out on the boat. Jesus went to them, walking on the water.
In spite of the disciples witnessing these miracles, their faith struggled in these stories. I guess I can relate. In spite of the miracle of Christ in my life, I struggle. I struggle to trust Him enough to make decisions according to His agenda instead of my own. I struggle to set aside my “me” time when others are in need. I struggle to get out of the boat and walk as He did. I take my eyes off Him and sink up to my eyeballs in my circumstances, agenda, and felt needs. In short, I can be a hypocrite.
But that is what makes the news of the “Christ mass” so amazing. He became flesh and dwelt among us. He came to seek out the sinners, not the perfect people. His life, death, and resurrection were meant to reconcile people like me to Him. I have days when I am a hypocrite, but that is a blight on my integrity, not His. Further, because of the grace He has given me, I am getting better at spotting my hypocrisy and being freed from it.
That freedom is offered to all who wish to receive it. It truly is glad tidings of joy!
1. Amy Orr-Ewing, Is Believing in God Irrational?, IVP Books, 2008, 84.