“God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son….We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him”– Romans 8:29
We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created”– Colossians 1:15
We were created to become like Christ. From the 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, are made “in God’s image”- Genesis 1:26. 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: Like God, we are spiritual beings-our spirits are immortal and will outlast our earthly bodies; we are intellectual- we can think, reason, and solve problems; like God, we are relational- we can give and receive real love; and we have 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. 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”.
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”. Let me be absolutely clear: You will never become God, or even a god. That prideful life is Satan’s oldest temptation. Satan promised Adam and Eve that if they followed His advice, “ye shall be as gods“.- Genesis 3
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 4:20-24
God’s ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort, but character development. 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, the fruit of the Spirit, Paul’s great chapter on love, and Peter’s list of the characteristics of an effective and productive life.
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” 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.
It’s the Holy Spirit job to produce Christlike character in you. The Bible says, “As 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. This process of changing us to be more like Jesus is called sanctification, and it is the third purpose of your life on earth. You cannot reproduce the character of Jesus on your own strength. New Year’s resolutions, willpower, and best intentions are not enough. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to make the changes God wants to make in our lives. The Bible says, “God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him”– Philippians 2:13
Christlikeness is not produced by imitation, but by inhabitation. We allow Christ to live through us. “For this is the secret: Christ lives in you”. How does this happen in real life? Through the choices we make. We choose to do the right thing in situations and then trust God’s Spirit to give us His power, love, faith, and wisdom to do it. Since God’s Spirit lives inside of us, these things are always available for the asking. We must cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work. The Holy Spirit releases His power the moment you take a step of faith. God waits for you to act first. Don’t wait to feel powerful or confident. Move ahead in your weakness, doing the right thing in spite of your fears and feelings. This is how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and it is how your character develops.