When we hear the phrase ‘Christ-like’ what does that actually refer to? How can we actually believe ourselves to be anything like God?
Joyce Meyer put it in perspective for me – I was recently reading a book of hers titled, Ephesians in which she asks the reader to list a few characteristics of God. I completed the assignment only to find myself thinking of this question for days to come. How do we actually view God? What are His characteristics? What is His personality?
Yesterday, while sitting in the back pew of a beautiful Sunday evening service, surrounded by hundreds of brightly shining candles at St. Stephens Church, I found myself thinking of the very question Joyce asked of her readers in Ephesians. What are the character traits of God? What is His personality? The top three that came to mind first were trustworthiness, forgiveness and nourishment. How amazing. How wonderful it is to think we have someone on our side that never falls short of these qualities. Imagine if humans embodied these same traits. Which leads me to my next point. We are told we should resemble God and be ‘Christ-like’ but many of us have a hard time understanding what that really means.
If we start with simply focusing on these three characteristics of Christ, we can tangibly translate it into our everyday lives. God is many things and is much more than these three adjectives I’ve used to describe Him but if we desire to embody His spirit and truly want to make a difference in our lives, this is a wonderful place to start.
We trust God with our problems. We trust God to listen to us, to guide us, to love us and to never lead us astray. We too can allow ourselves to obtain and even offer (to others) the fruit of trustworthiness. We can be truthful at all times – to ourselves and to those surrounding us, so that people are able to have trust and faith in us. We can allow others to have faith in us, so much so, that they aren’t afraid to share their truest self with us. We can embody a trait that allows others to feel comfortable when they are around us. Being trustworthy is being honest with others but it’s also allowing others to have faith in us. We should be unwavering, convicted in what we believe and never falter. Gossiping and bad-mouthing others is never a just action.
We can forgive those who have hurt us. We know Jesus died on the cross to forgive us and save us from sin. He did this because He knew humans would commit sin and wanted to give us a chance to seek God and do what is inherently right. Sin is inevitable – people will hurt us and make poor choices over time. Sometimes we don’t see things as clear as we should and in turn, make a poor decision to later on discover the truth. In these moments, we should be Christ-like and offer forgiveness, wholeheartedly. It’s easier said than done but if we ask God to guide us, He will help us find the way. *In order for this to make sense, we should think of a time in our lives when we could have been more forgiving and make sure that in the future, when a similar occurrence arises, we are able to make the right choice.*
Nourishment. God nourishes us everyday. Every time we attempt to learn from our mistakes and move forward, He is there for us. He loves us unconditionally. Nourishment can be a difficult facet to grasp simply because we don’t always understand others. We often compare other peoples decisions to ours and if they don’t act as we would, we judge them and criticize them. This will be a perpetual issue throughout all of our lives. There is always going to be someone or something we don’t understand, and that is okay! All we need to be concerned with is how we react and how we nourish this person or situation. This is a characteristic trait that isn’t found too often in the society we live in. A lot of us don’t even understand what it means. We should be nourishing in all of our relationships and interactions. There are many instances when we are filled with anger, jealousy or grief and in turn, behave in an unjust way. We can’t allow others, or even God to nourish us, if we aren’t practicing it ourselves. To be nourishing towards others means to be kind, respectful, understanding, forgiving and honest no matter the circumstance.
We’re not always going to understand other people and their choices. We don’t need to. What we need to understand, is ourselves.
So many times in life we react a certain way based on how we’re treated. This is not fair to ourselves or fair to God. We can never control how someone treats us. We can only control our actions and our words. If we stay true to ourselves and only offer forgiveness, truthfulness and nourishment in times of anger, resentment or grief, we will begin to see ourselves growing and evolving in a way we may have never imagined possible. There is so much growth that God wants us to grasp and learn from Him. Often times we’d rather not exert the energy or perhaps we believe it to be impossible. Sometimes we even believe there is nothing left for us to learn – this may be the most threatening of them all. We should be learning and evolving until the day we depart this earth. We should constantly be searching for ways to improve. When we improve ourselves, we improve the lives of those around us. It’s a beautiful cycle.