In our study of the Gospel of Luke we have entered a section where the messages are quite often Christocentric. This is a radical change from the messages on the “Journey to Jerusalem” that were all about what a true disciple looks like. The messages now are about who Christ is and what He accomplishes for us. This is all set in the overarching story of God who redeems His creatures and restores His creation to their original intended purpose of bringing glory to God.
This change to focus on Christ presents an interesting challenge. How can all of this information about the identity and work of Christ be relevant for my daily life? When I wake up in the morning, is it really important for me to recall that Christ was declared innocent at His trials? Will it help me get through the day to know that He endured silently as He was ridiculed and beaten? That is not likely going to happen to me. I will not be beaten today. I will not be on trial on the basis of trumped-up charges.
I think there are a number of reasons these messages are important, but I want to focus our attention on one simple reason. We should want to be like Christ. Over one hundred years ago, one of my favorite authors, Marcus Dods, wrote this, “I suppose there is almost no one who would deny, if it were put to him, that the greatest possible attainment a man can make in this world is likeness to the Lord Jesus Christ.” When I read that again recently, I found myself in immediate agreement–at least conceptually. Then I asked myself a hard question, “Is that really true of how I frame my life?” If asked about the most important thing in life I would get the answer right on a test. But, would someone fill in this as an observation about how I go through my daily activities?
Dod’s compelling article goes through a number of excellent ways we can strive to become more like Christ. In fact, the article is called, “How to Become Like Christ.” But my concern is not that we do not know how; my concern is that we do not make it a priority in our lives. Is the attainment of Christlikeness really my greatest achievement? I know that, at least from time to time, my primary focus is approval from others, influence, an opportunity to retire someday, of a few moments of peace and quiet. Often times I pursue a little escape from the monotony or torment of my day by watching the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup or catching the Razorbacks rally in the seventh inning. By the end of the day, I suspect my goal has often been to make it to bed without any major disaster pushing too close for comfort.
I want to challenge what comes so naturally to you and me and ask us to consider reclaiming the aspiration to become Christlike as a daily goal. How do we do that? Dod’s article has some excellent ideas, which are illustrated beautifully. However, none of that matters at all if we do not reclaim Christlikeness as the most important activity of our day. While it is true that “almost every one of us offers to himself some apology for not being like Christ,” I am not satisfied with my excuses. You should not be either, and I certainly know God will not be.
As we listen to the last few messages in Luke, let’s make it our goal to listen with a goal of appreciating what Christ did for us and then living it out every day.