Our conception of Christlikeness
(J.R. Miller, "Things That Endure")
"That the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body." 2 Corinthians 4:10
Many 'lives of Christ' have been written — but in every Christian life, there should be a new one published. It is these lives which are needed: written not in handsomely bound volumes, with fine paper and gilt edges, and with attractive illustrations — but in men's daily lives.
It is important that we should understand how we are to manifest the life of Jesus in our own life. It is not enough to talk about Him. There are those who with silver tongue can speak of Jesus eloquently and winsomely — of whom it cannot be said, even in widest charity, that Jesus' life is relived in them.
We need more gospels in the lives of Christians — others need to see something of Christ in our own life.
What was this life of Jesus, which is to be repeated in every Christian life? Its great central characteristic was love — love full of compassion — love serving even to the lowliest degree and at greatest cost — love which was patient, forgiving, thoughtful, gentle — love unto the uttermost, which went to a cross to save sinners!
When we think of being like Christ — we are apt to gather out a few gentle qualities, and let these make up our conception of Christlikeness. True, He was a kindly man, a patient, quiet man; He was thoughtful, compassionate, unselfish, loving. But we must not forget that the cross is the truest symbol of the life of Jesus.
An artist was trying to improve on a dead mother's portrait. He wanted to take out the lines in her face. But the woman's son said it would not be a true portrait of his mother, if the lines were effaced. They told the story of the love, serving, and sacrifice — which made her what she was. The lines were themselves, the truest features in the whole portrait.
Just so, no picture of Jesus is true, which leaves out the marks of love's cost — the print of the nails, the memorials of His suffering.
It is not enough that we point others to a historic cross standing on Calvary, far back in the centuries; they must see the cross in our own life. When we speak to our neighbors of the pity of Jesus, His eager desire to save the lost, His giving of His life as a ransom — they must see all this in us. This is the manifesting of Jesus, for which we are sent into the world.
Jesus must enter our hearts, and live out His own blessed life in us.
"Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21