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?