... we become more and more like him. 2 Corinthians 3:18
Becoming more Christ-like doesn't mean losing your individuality and being a mindless clone. God created the characteristics that make you unique, so He certainly doesn't want to destroy them. Christ-likeness is about transforming your character, not your personality. Paul writes, '... take on an entirely new way of life - a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you' (Ephesians 4:22-24 TM). Every time you forget that character, not comfort, is God's first priority in your life you become frustrated and wonder, 'Why is all this happening to me? Why doesn't God do something about it?'
Abundant life isn't the absence of adversity, it is growth in the midst of it. 'As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.' You say, 'Yes, but how does this happen in real life?' Through our choices - we choose to do the right thing, then trust God's Spirit to give us the power, love, faith and wisdom to do it. Since His Spirit lives inside us, these things are available for the asking. But when you ask Him and God tells you what to do, you must obey Him. When Joshua stood at the River Jordan, its floodwaters only receded after he stepped in. Obedience unlocks God's power! God waits for you to act on His instructions. You can't wait until you feel capable or confident, you must move ahead in your weakness, doing the right thing in spite of your fears. That's how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and how Christ-like character is developed in you.
Spiritual growth could be compared to a seed, a building, and a child. Each requires our participation. When planted, seeds must be watered, fertilised and protected. When erected, buildings must be maintained. When born, children must be cared for, taught and disciplined. Getting the idea? Now, effort has nothing to do with your salvation, but it has everything to do with your spiritual growth. You can't just sit around and hope to evolve into spiritual maturity. Paul explains our three responsibilities in becoming more like Christ:
1)Deciding: '... everything - connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it!... ' (Ephesians 4:22 TM). We must decide each day to let go of our old ways.
2) Renewing: '... do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind... ' (Romans 12:2 NKJV). The Greek word for transformed is 'metamorphosis,' which describes the amazing way in which a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly. It's a picture of what happens when we spend time in prayer, feed on God's Word and allow Him to direct our thoughts. As we take on the beauty of Christ's character we begin to grow and soar to new heights.
3) Clothing: We must clothe ourselves each day with the character of Christ. How do you do that? By developing new habits. Your character is made up of the sum of your daily habits. What you do, you become! So, '... put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness' (Ephesians 4:24 NIV). To become Christ-like you must commit yourself to doing these three things.
o make us more Christ-like God will use His Word, other people, and difficult circumstances. God's Word provides the truth we need to know, God's people provide the support we need to grow, and difficult circumstances provide the environment we need to show Christ-likeness. If you apply God's Word, connect regularly with other believers, and learn to trust God in every situation, you will become more like Jesus. Count on it; it will happen! You say:
1) 'Some days I wonder if I'll ever get there.' Spiritual maturity is neither automatic nor guaranteed. It's a gradual, progressive development that will require commitment and discipline. 'This will continue until we are... mature, just as Christ is... ' (Ephesians 4:13 CEV). Even when you falter and fail, God will be faithful to you. He is committed to your spiritual growth as long as you are! 2) 'Sometimes I wonder if I've chosen the right career.' All of us have times of doubt and confusion. Don't worry about it. God's more concerned about your character than your career, because you'll take your character into eternity with you.
The Bible says: '... 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 TM). Every day you must make a decision, a counter-cultural decision to focus on becoming like Jesus. As you do, God's indwelling Spirit will empower you to carry it out.