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 Post subject: Christlikeness
PostPosted: September 4th, 2008, 10:28 am 
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Joined: February 3rd, 2008, 8:28 pm
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Dennis Stackhouse

A father and his small son were strolling down the street in Chicago past the place where a skyscraper was being constructed. Glancing upward, they saw some men at work on one of the upper stories of the building. "Dad," asked the young son, "what are those little boys doing up there?" "Those are not little boys, son, they are grown men." "But why do they look so small?" "Because they are so high up," his father answered. After a momentary pause, the boy asked, "Then dad, when they get to heaven there won't be anything left of them, will there?" Hopefully we understand the truth contained in that little statement. The nearer that we can come to Christ and imitate Him in all we do, the less others are going to see of us and the more they are going to see of Christ.

Actually getting ourselves out of the way so that others can see Christ is certainly more difficult to do than it is to say. However, we know that it is an established Biblical concept; Christian people are expected to do just that. Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven," in Matthew 5:16. Our Lord is telling us that others are to see our good works, actions which are good and attractive. However, there is a qualification. These good works are to be such that they will draw the attention of others to God, and not to ourselves. Thus, the Christian must never think of what he has done, but of what God has enabled him to do. As long as we are thinking about the praise, the thanks, and the prestige which we will get for what we have done, we have not yet begun to live the life of Christlikeness. In speaking about the humble attitude of our Lord, Paul instructed his readers to "have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus," in Philippians 2:5.

In Matthew 16:24 we read this: "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." The portion of the verse we should briefly focus on is that of denying self. We may ordinarily perceive of the concept of self-denial in a rather restricted sense. Perhaps we use it most often to signify giving something up. For example, a week of self-denial might be a week when we do without a certain pleasure or luxury in order to contribute to some good cause. But really, that is only a very small part of what Jesus meant when He spoke of self-denial. To deny oneself means that in every moment of life we are to say "no" to self and "yes" to God. To deny oneself means that we are to finally and for all time dethrone self and enthrone God. To deny oneself means that we are to obliterate self as the dominant principle of life and we are to make God the ruling principle, in fact, the ruling passion of our lives. The life of constant self-denial is the life of constant assent to God.

The apostle Paul spoke of this same concept in 1 Corinthians 11:1, saying, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ." Paul certainly encouraged his readers in Corinth, and us, to imitate what they saw in his life, to follow the pattern that he had set. But there was also a condition attached: They were to imitate him only as he imitated Christ. So once again we find that Jesus is to be the ultimate pattern for our lives. Peter made it just as clear in these words taken from 1 Peter 2:21: "You have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps." The concept which the little boy had was certainly accurate. The nearer we can come to Jesus, the more we can emulate His life in our own lives, the less people will see of us and the more they will see of Christ. The goal may best be stated in the words of Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me."

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