I found myself eating toast with jelly as a late night snack with the lights turned down while I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation. Tomorrow I may have a bowl of Cheerios with my coffee and become even more like him. Maybe I’ll even watch the news.
Of course I have not actually become him, but my actions reveal his likeness. By living in close proximity, his way of doing things has become my way of doing things even without trying.
It happens. We joke that people begin to look like their dogs. If you doubt me, just do a quick internet search and you’ll be entertained. Similarly, I’m sure you’ve known couples who have started to talk like their partner after being together a while. It’s why I came home from Canada saying, “eh?” Psychologists call this the Social Proximity Effect. Sadly, our mothers were right: if your friends jump off a cliff, you probably will too.
Inluence is powerful. When we learn good traits, the results are amazing. When we learn bad traits, it can seem impossible to overcome. There is probably no place this is more true than in our faith. In scripture we read John's words stressing the importance of it:
We know that we have come to know God if we obey his commands. Suppose someone says, “I know him.” But suppose this person does not do what God commands. Then this person is a liar and is not telling the truth. But if anyone obeys God’s word, then that person truly loves God. Here is how we know we belong to him. Those who claim to belong to him must live just as Jesus did. (1 John 2:3-6, NIRV)
Scripture is clear that believers must live like Jesus did, but let's be honest, it's doesn't always seem like they do. It would be easy to dismiss this as a failure resulting from our human nature - and, yes, we are all going to fail from time to time, but that answer isn't sufficient for me.
The Person is a New Believer
I believe in immediate salvation, but I also believe that we spend the rest of our lives becoming like Christ. We will always struggle with a sinful nature, though those struggles may change over the course of our life. Sometimes those rough-around-the-edges Christians are just spiritual babies. They are still drinking the milk of their faith (Read 1 Peter 2:1-2 HERE).
The Person is Distracted
Distraction can occur in one of at least two ways. We don't spend enough time with Him or we spend too much time with others. In the first case, we aren't practicing spiritual disciplines: praying, reading the Bible, participating in a faith community. In the second case, those spiritual disciplines are being drowned out by the other voices in our life: unbelieving friends, the internet, or personal activities. Our faith is being choked out by life (Read Mark 4:1-20 HERE).
The Person is Unaware of the Impact of their Actions
This is a tough one for me. I strongly believe that our faith is meant to be lived out with other believers. In fact, I recently wrote about that idea in my Friday writing group (Read it HERE). In practical application, this one is easier said than done. I have a friend who on more than one occaision has reminded me that sometimes the way I speak does not convey a friendly tone. Oof. It's always awkward for both of us. The first time I was told this, my immediate response was a defensive manner. As I calmed down I realized that he was right, and I have tried to change my actions accordingly. However, it's not always appropriate to confront someone. You must have a loving relationship with them and pure motives.
These are a few of the things I've been thinking about, but I want to know from you: Why do you think Christians are sometime so unlike Christ? Leave me a comment and go be like Jesus!