Dear Members and Friends of IBCZ,
As I mentioned Sunday, for these next 4-5 weeks I will be preaching on the theme of “Encountering Jesus.” We will look at examples in the Gospels of people who encountered Jesus, noting the impact this had on their lives, and what it means for us today as we live as disciples of Jesus.
This past Sunday we reflected on when Jesus called Peter and Andrew, James and John to follow Him as His disciples (Mark 1:16-20). We saw that while a disciple is always learning all they can from their teacher/rabbi, ultimately the goal of discipleship is not only to learn but to be transformed. A disciple is one who wants to become like the one they follow.
Jesus said in Lk. 6:40, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” That is the goal of our discipleship as followers of Jesus – to become like Jesus. We should not see that only as a command, but as a great opportunity for us! Doing so will involve two things for us.
First, we must have a clear picture of what Jesus was like. Thus, I would encourage all of us to make reading from the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) a regular activity, for these tell us the story of Jesus. We see the nature of His relationship with the Father, His character, how He treated others, His servant’s heart, and His dedication to His purpose.
Second, we must do those things that will help us grow in Christ-likeness. Some suggestions are: 1) Not only read the Gospels but spend time reflecting on what we read of Jesus, and then examining ourselves in light of that – How am I doing in this regard? In what situations do I fall short? 2) We must pray, for we could never grow in Christ-like character apart from asking the Holy Spirit to help us. 3) Have one or several close Christian friends who know us deeply and who can speak truthfully and lovingly to us, helping us see our weaknesses or blind spots (and we all have blind spots when it comes to our character). 4) It can be helpful to read the biographies of Christians who over time came to demonstrated the true qualities of Christ-likeness, so we can both be inspired by their example and see how it looks in practice – not only in Jesus but in His followers.
We should not see this as something we must do, but as something we can do by His grace. We can be transformed into new people in Christ! As that happens, we enjoy the satisfaction of seeing how we are being transformed, and we will be able to present an authentic witness to others of the reality of Christ. By God’s grace, may we all become like the One we follow!