I Really Don't Want to be Like Jesus
Yes, you read the title correctly. I really don’t want to be like Jesus.
Let me tell you why.
About twenty years ago, a man named Chip Anderson was giving a sermon at a church I was attending. During his talk, he told a story about the day of his father’s funeral. One of his father’s friends walked up to Chip and said, “Your father was like Jesus to me.”
When I heard that, I thought that was the highest compliment anyone could pay another person, especially when being eulogized. Through the years, I’ve often thought of that story, and I’ve even periodically told myself, I hope people can say that about me when I die.
“Zachery was like Jesus to me.”
Recently, I prayed that I’d look more like Jesus, not really knowing what I was praying for. You know that saying, “Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.”
See, when I prayed to be more like Jesus, I prayed with the idea that all of a sudden, I’d magically be more holy, more patient, more loving, more self-controlled, more humble, more tolerant of others, and more able to resist temptations.
Little did I know, that being like Jesus isn’t what I thought it was going to be like and it doesn’t happen all of a sudden, nor magically.
Speaking of Jesus, Isaiah 53:3 reads:
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
I’m not sure about you, but that doesn’t sound like someone who I really want to be associated with or even remotely look like.
I hate pain. I hate rejection. I struggle with being humble, patient, forgiving, not being critical and judgmental, thinking of others, practicing self-control or trusting God with my life.
I tend to go in the opposite direction.
That was until recently.
A few months ago, a circumstance happened that utterly turned my life upside down.
Trust me, when you want to be more like Jesus, don’t expect it to be easy. In fact, expect the exact opposite.
To learn humility, I’ve experienced loss.
To learn patience, I’m being challenged to wait.
To learn forgiveness, I’ve experienced pain.
To learn to be less critical or judgmental, I’ve befriended others who are struggling with their own brokenness while recognizing and accepting my own.
To learn how to think of others, I’m trying to be more empathic and listen to those who I’ve caused pain.
To learn self-control, I’ve had to deny myself.
To trust and have faith in God, I’m learning to let go and not attempt to control and manipulate others or circumstances.
Thinking about my prayer in hindsight, I didn’t think he’d take me seriously, because I’m not sure I really want to be like Jesus.
It’s too painful. Too sorrowful. Too self-denying. Too humbling. Too trusting. Too faithful. Too giving. Too loving. Too patient. Too good. Too gentle. Too perfect.
And, I am not any of those.
The truth is, in wanting to become more like Jesus, I’m learning that words like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, suffering, hope, faith, trust, vulnerability, self-control, humility and other adjectives are what His character consists of and to become like him, is to cast off my humanness in all its fleshly desires.
Jesus is able to identify with my brokenness because he took my sin while on the cross and died for me. In becoming like him, He knows that suffering is the key to transitioning from being self-focused, to others focused all the while looking at and following him.
Oddly enough, the other day, I was sharing with a friend about my life’s circumstances, and he responded, “Through your pain, it looks like you’re able to identify with Christ more.”
I shook my head and thought, “Guess I’m getting what I asked for.”
In this season of my life, like it or not, maybe I am becoming more like Jesus.