Illustration results for christlikeness
CHRISTLIKENESS: A PAINFUL PROCESS
The truth is that the Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask you to go somewhere or do something you wouldn’t normally want or choose to do. The Spirit will lead you to the way of the cross, as He led Jesus to the cross, and that is definitely not a safe or pretty or comfortable place to be. The Holy Spirit of God will mold you into the person you were made to be. This often incredibly painful process strips you of selfishness, pride, and fear.
For a powerful example of this, read in C. S. Lewis’s book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader about the boy, Eustace, who becomes a dragon. In order to become a little boy again, he must undergo a tremendous amount of pain as the dragon skin is peeled away and torn from him. Only after he endures this painful process is he truly transformed from a dragon back into a boy.
Sometimes the sin we take on becomes such a part of us that it requires this same kind of ripping and tearing to free us. The Holy Spirit does not seek to hurt us, but He does seek to make us Christlike, and this can be painful.
(Francis Chan. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit (pp. 50-51). Kindle Edition.)
Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of John Hopkins in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to outpatients at the clinic.
One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man. “Why, he’s hardly taller than my eight-year-old,” I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was his face – lopsided from swelling, red and raw. Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, “Good evening. I’ve come to see if you’ve a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the Eastern Shore, and there’s no bus till morning.”
He told me he’d been hunting for a room since noon but with no success; no one seemed to have a room. “I guess it’s my face. I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments . . ..”
For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: “I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning.”
I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. “No thank you. I have plenty.” And he held up a brown paper bag.
When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes. It didn’t take a long time to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury. He didn’t tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was prefaced with thanks to God for a blessing.
He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going. At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children’s room for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little man was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said, “Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won’t put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair.” He paused a moment and then added, “Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don’t seem to mind.”
I told him he was welcome to come again. And on his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen. He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they’d be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4:00 a.m., and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.
In the years he came to stay overnight with us there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden. Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery, fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had, made the gifts doubly precious.
When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbor made after he left that first morning. “Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!”
Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But oh! If only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear. I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God.
Recently I was visiting a friend who has a greenhouse. As she showed me her flowers, we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, If this were my plant, I’d put it in the loveliest container I had!”
My friend changed my mind. “I ran short of pots,” she explained, “and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting out in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden.”
She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in heaven. “Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. “He won’t mind starting in this small body.”
All this happened long ago. And now, in God’s garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand.
Mary Bartels Bray, reprinted from Guideposts, June 1965.
The cocoon of the Emperor moth is flask like in shape. To develop into a perfect insect, it must force its way through the neck of the cocoon by hours of intense struggle. Entomologists explain that this pressure to which the moth is subjected is nature’s way of forcing a life giving substance into its wings. Wanting to lesson the seemingly needless trials and struggles of the moth, an observer said, "I’ll lesson the pain and struggles of this helpless creature!" With small scissors he snipped the restraining threads to make the moth’s emergence painless and effortless. The creature never developed
wings. For a brief time before its death it simply crawled instead of flying through the air on rainbow colored wings! (By the way.....the struggles of childbirth...i.e., the child squeezing through the birth canal are also a God designed way of forcing liquid out of the newborn’s lungs.)Sorrow, suffering, trials, and tribulations are wisely designed to grow us into Christlikeness. The refining and developing processes are oftentimes slow, but through grace, we emerge triumphant.
A HUNGRY ENEMY
A woman wrote to "Pulpit Helps" to explain a miraculous lesson her family experienced. During one of their family Bible readings as new Christians, they ran across the verse, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him" (Romans 12:20 RSV). She writes:
Ours sons, 7 and 10 at the time, were especially puzzled. "Why should you feed your enemy?" they wondered. My husband and I wondered too, but the only answer John could think of to give the boys was, "We’re supposed to because God says so." It never occurred to us that we would soon learn why.
Day after day John Jr. came home from school complaining about a classmate who sat behind him in 5th grade. "Bob keeps jabbing me when Miss Smith isn’t looking. One of these days, when we’re out on the play ground, I’m going to jab him back.
I was ready to go down to the school and jab Bob myself. Obviously the boy was a brat. Besides, why wasn’t Miss Smith doing a better job with her kids? I’d better give her an oral jab, too, at the same time!"
I was till fuming over this injustice to John Jr. when his 7 year old brother spoke up: "Maybe he should feed his enemy." The 3 of us were startled.
None of us was sure about this "enemy" business. It didn’t seem that an enemy would be in the 5th grade. An enemy was someone who was way off... well, somewhere.
We all looked at John. Since he was the head of the family , he should come up with the solution. But the only answer he could offer was the same one he had give before: "I guess we should because God said so."
"Well," I asked John Jr., "do you know what Bob likes to eat? If you’re going to feed him, you may as well get something he likes." "Jelly beans," he almost shouted, "Bob just loves jelly beans."
So we bought a bag of jelly beans for him to take to school the next day, and decided that the next time Bob jabbed John Jr., John was simply to turn around and deposit the bag on his "enemy’s" desk. We would see whether or not this enemy feeding worked.
The next afternoon, the boys rushed home from the school bus and Joh...
Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve. You dont have to have a college degree to serve. You dont have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
I Love You Already
There was an elderly man who lost his wife of 70 years. He was blind and could barely walk with assistance. He was being moved to a nursing home because his bride was no longer able to care for him. As the nurse led the old gent down the hallway to his new room, he started smiling and saying, "Oh, I love it already." The nurse replied, "You haven't even set foot in the room." "I know," he answered, "it doesn't make any difference; I decided I was going to like it before we left the house."
Now, if we were to apply that kind of attitude towards all the people we already know, and even those we haven't even seen yet – THAT would be Christlikeness. That's what Jesus did when He went to the cross for you; you weren't even born, and He was already forgiving you.
Jesus has always been the forgiver. Scripture tells us that He came into the world without intending to condemn us, but that we might be saved.  But someday He will judge everyone; and everyone will respond by kneeling in front of Him to give account for our deeds done in this life. And, to a great degree, it is this issue of how well we have loved each other that Jesus will use to judge us on that day.
Sometimes the analogy of the caterpillar turned butterfly is over-used. But we can’t help it because it’s a powerful image of the metamorphosis we undergo in our relational development toward God.
Our caterpillar state is one of restriction. We are bound by realities of time and space that restrain us to a very small here and now. We can easily be rushing everywhere while actually never moving anywhere. Through the continual process of awareness of God--adjustment here, change there, deepening more, reshaping and readjusting, dying to self and becoming more awakened to God--the metamorphosis evolves to deeper glory and radiance. The day is coming when we’ll be translated from this world and break out of the cocoon of physical bondage to the glorious, final completion of transformation in Christlikeness! 1 John 3:2 paints the picture: "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is."
“In His powerful book The Holiness of God, R. C. Sproul observes that unbelievers often feel uneasy in the presence of an obedient Christian. The holiness of God reflected in a believer’s life makes the non-Christian uncomfortable. Sproul then shares this truce incident to make his point.
“A well-know professional golfer was playing in a tournament with President Gerald Ford, fellow pro Jack Nicklaus, and Billy Graham. After the round was over one of the other pros on the tour asked, ‘Hey, what was it like playing with the President and Billy Graham?’ The pro said with disgust, ‘I don’t need Billy Graham stuffing religion down my throat!’ With that he headed for the practice tee. His friend followed, and after the golfer had pounded out his fury on a bucket of golf balls, he asked, ‘Was Billy a little rough on you out there?’ The pro sighed and said with embarrassment, ‘No, he didn’t even mention religion.’
“Sproul comments, ‘Astonishing, Billy Graham had said nothing about God, Jesus, or religion, yet the pro stomped away after the game accusing Billy of trying to ram ...
"IS HE LIKE BILL?"
Bill was a drunk, converted at a city mission. Before his conversion he had gained a reputation as a tramp and alcoholic for whom there was no hope. But when he was converted everything changed. He became the most caring person at the mission. He spent all his days there doing whatever needed to be done. There was never anything he was asked to do that he considered beneath him. Whether it was cleaning up vomit left by some alcoholic or scrubbing toilets used by men who left them filthy, Bill did it all with a heart of gratitude. He could be counted on to feed any man who wandered in off the streets and care for his needs when he was unable to care for himself.
One evening after the mission director delivered his evangelistic message to the usual crowd of solemn men with drooped heads, one of them came down to the altar and kneeled to pray, crying out to God to help him change. The repentant drunk kept shouting, "O God make me like Bill! Make me like Bill! Make me like Bill!" The director of the mi...