Becoming Like Jesus Is a Slow Process
By RICK WARREN
Pastor, Saddleback Church
" ... This will continue until we are . . . mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him. Ephesians 4:13 (CEV)
Becoming like Christ is a long, slow process of growth. Spiritual maturity is neither instant nor automatic; it is a gradual, progressive development that will take the rest of your life.
Referring to this process, Paul said, “This will continue until we are . . . mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him” (Ephesians 4:13 CEV).
You are a work in progress. Your spiritual transformation in developing the character of Jesus will take the rest of your life, and even then it won’t be completed here on earth. It will only be finished when you get to heaven or when Jesus returns.
At that point, whatever unfinished work on your character is left will be wrapped up. The Bible says that when we are finally able to see Jesus perfectly, we will become perfectly like him: “We can’t even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is” (1 John 3:2 NLT).
Much confusion in the Christian life comes from ignoring the simple truth that God is far more interested in building your character than he is anything else. We worry when God seems silent on specific issues such as “What career should I choose?”
The truth is, there are many different careers that could be in God’s will for your life. What God cares about most is that whatever you do, you do in a Christlike manner (1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Corinthians 16:14; Colossians 3:17, 23).
Who you are is more important
God is far more interested in who you are than in what you do. We are human beings, not human doings. God is much more concerned about your character than your career, because you will take your character into eternity, but not your career.
The Bible warns, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. . . . Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (Romans 12:2 MSG).
Christlikeness is countercultural
You must make a counterculture decision to focus on becoming more like Jesus. Otherwise, other forces like peers, parents, co-workers, and culture will try to mold you into their image.
Sadly, a quick review of many popular Christian books reveals that many believers have abandoned living for God’s great purposes and settled for personal fulfillment and emotional stability. That is narcissism, not discipleship.
Jesus' deeper purpose
Jesus did not die on the cross just so we could live comfortable, well-adjusted lives. His purpose is far deeper: he wants to make us like himself before he takes us to heaven. This is our greatest privilege, our immediate responsibility, and our ultimate destiny.
© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved.
About the author
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers.