You were created to become like Christ.
From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to make you like His Son, Jesus. This is your destiny and the third purpose of your life. God announced this intention at Creation:
Then God said, ‘Let Us make human beings in Our image and likeness’. – Genesis 1:26
In all of creation, only human beings are made “in God’s image.” This is a great privilege and gives us dignity. We don’t know all this phrase covers, but we do know some of the aspects it includes:
- we are spiritual beings – our spirits are immortal and will outlast our earthly bodies;
- we are intellectual – we can think, reason, and solve problems;
- we are relational – we can give and receive real love;
- and we have a moral consciousness – we can discern right from wrong, which makes us accountable to God.
The Bible says that all people, not just believers, possess part of the image of God; that is why murder and abortion are wrong (see Genesis 9:6; Psalm 139:13-16; James 3:9). But the image is incomplete and has been damaged and distorted by sin.
So God sent Jesus on a mission to restore the full image that we have lost.
What does the full “image and likeness” of God look like? It looks like Jesus Christ!
The Bible says Jesus is “the exact likeness of God,” “the visible image of the invisible God,” and “the exact representation of his being” (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3).
People often use the phrase “like father, like son” to refer to family resemblance. When people see my likeness in my kids, it pleases me.
God wants His children to bear His image and likeness, too. The Bible says,
You were… created to be like God, truly righteous and holy. — Ephesians 4:24
Let me be absolutely clear: You will never become God, or even a god. That prideful lie is Satan’s oldest temptation. Satan promised Adam and Eve that if they followed his advice, “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5).
Many religions and New Age philosophies still promote this old lie that we are divine or can become gods. This desire to be a god shows up every time we try to control our circumstances, our future, and people around us. But as creatures, we will never be the Creator.
God doesn’t want you to become a god; He wants you to become godly – taking on His values, attitudes, and character. The Bible says,
Take on an entirely new way of life – a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His character in you. – Ephesians 4:22-24
He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ. Becoming like Christ does not mean losing your personality or becoming a mindless clone. God created your uniqueness, so He certainly doesn’t want to destroy it. Christlikeness is all about transforming your character, not your personality.
God wants you to develop the kind of character described in the beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5:1-12), the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), Paul’s great chapter on love (1 Corinthians 13), and Peter’s list of the characteristics of an effective and productive life (2 Peter 1:5-8).
Every time you forget that character is one of God’s purposes for your life, you will become frustrated by your circumstances. You’ll wonder, Why is this happening to me? Why am I having such a difficult time?
One answer is that life is supposed to be difficult! It’s what enables us to grow. Remember, earth is not heaven! Many Christians misinterpret Jesus’ promise of the “abundant life” (John 10:10) to mean perfect health, a comfortable lifestyle, constant happiness, full realization of your dreams, and instant relief from problems through faith and prayer. In a word, they expect the Christian life to be easy. They expect heaven on earth.
This self-absorbed perspective treats God as a genie who simply exists to serve you in your selfish pursuit of personal fulfillment. But God is not your servant, and if you fall for the idea that life is supposed to be easy, either you will become severely disillusioned or you will live in denial of reality.
Never forget that life is not about you! You exist for God’s purposes, not vice versa.
Why would God provide heaven on earth when He’s planned the real thing for you in eternity? God gives us our time on earth to build and strengthen our character for heaven.
Excerpted with permission from The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, copyright Zondervan.
* * *
Have you ever wondered, “Why is this happening to me? Why am I having such a difficult time?” Have you ever prayed, “God, I think I have enough character now, thankYouverymuch”? It’s easy to forget that life is not about us. Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about the strengthening of your character by God through difficult times! ~ Devotionals Daily