Are You More Like Christ This Year Than Last Year?

maturewheel_2If so, why?

If not, why not?

There is only one possible way to become more like Christ, namely, by being brought to maturity in Christ by the Holy Spirit, in the community of the church. So to say “I am no more like Christ than I was a year ago” is not a humble statement. It is an indictment of both the Holy Spirit and the church.

It is the concerted witness of Scripture that the Holy Spirit and the faithful church labor together to present believers fully mature in Christ. The Apostle Paul describes this co-labor with the Holy Spirit as strenuous, as in Colossians 1:27-29:

[Christ] is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

And lest we think of this as the work of sainted apostles and prophets, Paul notes that his co-workers “wrestled” to this same end, as in Colossians 4:12:

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.

So the Godhead is equipping you to grow to fullness in Christ. The true undershepherds of the flock are strenuously wrestling over such matters daily. Another year has passed; are you more like Christ this year than last year? If the answer is no, it can’t be because God changed his mind and decided that conforming you to the image of his son wasn’t that big a deal anymore. So that leaves two remaining factors in the equation: your church (and its pastor), and you.

Is your church (and its pastor) strenuously wrestling for your growth to fullness in Christ?

And you? Are you pressing on toward the goal?

If growth to fullness in Christ is not the overriding goal of your life (and every day in it), and if your growth to fullness in Christ is not the overriding goal of your church and its pastor, then no, you are likely not more like Christ this year than last year. You may be more patient and more giving. You may be a better parent. You may be in less debt. You may know more about the Bible. But the more you know about the Bible, the more you realize that these are not the measure. There is one measure: fullness in Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit in the church is devoted to this measure. Every officer within the church is called with this measure in mind. Every act of equipping is done with this as the sole measure, as we learn in Ephesians 4:11-15:

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature,attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

I have heard people say that as they get older they become more like their same-sex parent, i.e., women become more like their mothers and men become more like their fathers. That is a profoundly true statement at a level deeper than what we can possibly comprehend. Yes, we are always becoming more like our parent.

Who are you more like this year? And why? What has the Holy Spirit’s role been in that process? And what has been the role of your church and its pastor in this regard?

And what of your role? Those who care for your soul are strenuously wrestling to present you mature in Christ. How are you responding?

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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3 Responses to Are You More Like Christ This Year Than Last Year?

  1. lambskinny says:

    If I’m a better parent, more patient, in less debt, etc. then it follows I am probably more like Christ than I was the year before. Behaviors such as these come not from the inner man, but from the inner Christ, in my opinion anyway. Many blessings, Carley

  2. Jacquelynne Titus says:

    This is the 3rd time I’m attempting to answer you (computers! 🙂 :-))
    If we are to press on, Christ being our example I think that we should “keep our eyes on the example” we have in Paul -who suffered immensely because of what Christ did for Him and the other apostles “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind [Paul was a Middle Eastern terrorist] and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
    Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:12-21 ESV)

    We understand that suffering [for Him, not for our sins] is a gift (Phil. 1:29). We understand that the gospel is to be preached to all of mankind in a worthy manner, but that preaching this gospel (obeying God rather than men Acts 5:29) comes at a cost in the 10/40 window. We can help! 🙂 🙂 http://www.persecution.com
    There is no part of one’s life exempt from the manifestation of His glory. I like the beattitudes (Matt.5:3-12) to BE my attitude 🙂 🙂
    I strive to that end, I press on. (Phil. 3:14, Col. 1:29)
    I am saved FOR not BY good works 🙂 🙂 (Eph. 2:8-10)
    “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
    “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16 ESV)
    Pray for you and Mrs. F every day -God bless XOXOXO

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