Sunday, 11 January 2015

Becoming Like Christ


Introduction

  • Who do you think you are? Popular TV programme.
  • Who do you take after?
  • My children – take after me both in physical appearance & personality


Called by to like Christ

  • As Christians we are called to be like Christ.
  • Followers of Jesus first called Christians in Antioch in Acts 11:26.  Name was used disparagingly – meaning ‘Little Christs’.  We are called to be little Christ’s.
  • Just as people are able to say “You are so or so’s son or daughter” because of our character or physical appearance, people should be able to tell that we are followers of Christ by the sort of people we are.
  • When it comes to Jesus we’re not talking about a physical likeness, but a spiritual likeness. 

Fruit of the Holy Spirit

  • Which Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 describes as the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control.   
  • These are the fruits that God wants us to experience, and the characteristics that the Spirit of God develops in our lives. 
  • Fruit doesn’t grow overnight – it takes time.  This fruit of the Holy Spirit doesn’t appear at once, but there should be evidence of change taking place in our lives, as we become more Christ like.  More loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kinder, more caring, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. 

Goal of Christlikeness

  • At the very heart of the Christian faith is transformation – transformation into being more like Christ.  This is the goal of every Christian.
  • We are created to be like Jesus.  To be fully human, is to be like Christ.  Nothing is more important. 
  • Paul tells us in Romans 8:28-29 that the whole purpose of God calling us was to conform us to the likeness of his son, to become like Jesus.  God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his   Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” 
  • When we come to faith and give our lives to Jesus that is not the end of the journey, only the beginning.  Salvation is not a destination, but a process, in which we become more like Jesus.

Work of the Holy Spirit

  • It is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Christ in us that produces Christ-like character.
  • Paul writesAs the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT)
  • There is nothing more important than becoming like Christ, and seeing the fruit of the Holy Spirit develop in our lives. 

Fruit of the Holy Spirit

  • If you want fruit to grow, you don’t polish the branches or paint the fruit, you pay attention to the roots of the tree, cultivating the soil.  Ensuring it is well watered and fertilised. 

  • In the same way in the Christian life, if you want the Fruit of the Spirit to grow, then we need to cultivate the soil of our relationship with God. 
    • To pay attention God’s word
    • Prayer
    • Commitment to worship
    • Fellowship – Christian life not lived in isolation.
  • Couples that have been together for a long time often develop similar personality traits, and even dress and look like one another.  The reason for this is because the more time you spend in the company of someone, the more this will shape and influence your personality and character. 
  • The same is true with Jesus.  The more time we spend in the presence of Jesus, then the more we should become like him, as our inner selves become transformed into the moral likeness of Jesus Christ. 
  • Christ-likeness is not produced by imitation, but by inhabitation. It is when we open ourselves up to Jesus and his Holy Spirit that the work of transformation begins.  It’s about Christ living in us.  (Colossians 1:27 NLT).
  • Jesus himself said “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
  • What the world needs is not more church goers, or pew fillers, but Christians whose lives are daily being transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ.
  • Gandhi – “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
  • The challenge for all of us is do others see Christ in us?
  • If we claim to be a Christian, but not to be growing more like Jesus then something is not right. 
  • Think for a moment about people you have met who were Christ like, what most did you notice about them?  
Love

  • We are encouraged to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day.  When it comes to the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, Paul mentions 9 fruits. 
  • The first three fruits, love, joy and peace concern primarily our attitude towards God. 
  • Next, patience, kindness and goodness, focus on our relationship with others. 
  • Finally faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, focus on ourselves. 
  • But the first & most important fruit, the one that binds them all together is LOVE.
  • 1 Corinthians 13 – greatest passage in the Bible on the subject of love.  Paul writes ‘where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away…. and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’ (1 Cor. 13:8, 13)
  • Love should above all else be the hall mark of a Christian’s life. 
  • Love is after all at the very heart of the Christian faith. The Bible is the story of God’s love for us. The cross is God’s love in action. Our relationship with God is based on this love, and Jesus’ command to his disciples was to love one another. 
  • Love is at the core of what it means to be a Christian, to live as a Christian and to be like Jesus. 
  • It is what we as the followers of Christ should be known for above all else.  Love is the best and most important evidence of the work of the Spirit of God in our lives.

Fruit of the Spirit


  • If there was someone who was Christlike, it undoubtedly was John Stott.
  • John Stott in his last public address given in July 2007 at Keswick Convention said that the thing God most wants for all his children is that we should be more Christlike.  This is only possible because of the Holy Spirit within us. 
  • I want to finish by saying together the prayer that John Stott used every morning.

Heavenly Father, I pray that this day I may live in your presence, and please you more and more. 


Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.

Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself, and cause your fruit to ripen in my life. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  Amen.