Focus on becoming like Jesus

Dow Tippett - Contributing columnist

Romans 8:29 NASB “For those He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Every day as the world changes from moment to moment, Christianity is changing as well. Some are adapting their methods to bring the Good News about Jesus Christ into a world that desperately needs Him. Others fight against the tide.

But in either camp, I often see and hear things that concern me.

In the circles in which I spend most of my time, leaders say, “We must change the method, but never the message.” While I agree with their sentiment, might I suggest a third alternative?

What if the message isn’t about method at all? What if delivering and living the truth of Jesus is never encompassed by any method? What if the good news is that Jesus changes who we are, and what we do will change, but not to anyone’s particular standard?

The problem I see in Christendom is that, as my mother used to say, we put the em-PHAS-is on the wrong sy-LAB-le.

Now, please, don’t misunderstand, I am not suggesting that we change the message that scripture proclaims. Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. He is the way to God, and no one can get to God except through Him.

We must become like Him as the example of godliness, and we must allow the Holy Spirit to show guide us into paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

But notice, the emphasis is on becoming, not doing. The emphasis of the new testament is on who we become by the work, power, and will of the Holy Spirit.

Even in passages like Ephesians 4 that tell us things like, “Do everything without grumbling or complaining” and “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth,” the emphasis for the book lies in the “therefore.”

We are told to act this way, because of who Jesus is and who he is making us.

The fruit of the Spirit is described by character words, not work words.

So, what is the role of the good works that God planned in advance for us to do? (Eph. 2:10) They position us for growth and result from our growth.

Works are the result of maturing in Christ. When we look at each other and see Christians behaving in a way that doesn’t look like Jesus, our thought should not be that “they” are wrong, but that what they’re doing is wrong, but God will help them grow.

So why does all this matter?

When we speak of Spiritual Disciplines, far too often we focus on the doing and not the becoming; the problem is that the doing focuses on us. When we focus on becoming, the focus is on God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Their work is what matters not ours. This gives us freedom from guilt and hope for a future.

“And I am sure of this that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to carry it on to completion.” Philippians 1:6

After 30 years in ministry, Dow is an speaker, author, and coach who spends his time training others to create, build and sustain a thriving life with others.

Dow Tippett

Contributing columnist