Becoming Like Jesus

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. — Philippians 3:10-12 NIV (emphasis mine)

The paint spread like butter on warm toast as I slid the light blue hue over the textured canvas panel with a flat brush. The clouds emerged bigger and bolder with every stroke. “Start from the top and work your way down,” my instructor told me. “That way, you have a place to rest your hand while you work.” I did and, with her guidance, painted a beach scene with rocks and water and clouds that genuinely looked like rocks and water and clouds! So, besides my tendency to use “too small a brush” and be “stingy with the paint,” I think it’s going well.

Still, when I started art lessons at a local gallery, I underestimated the influence of my teacher. Yes, I learned how to paint with oils, use different brushes and brush strokes, and how to mix colors. However, after a while, I realized that my paintings looked more and more like my instructor’s works. I’m not sure why I was surprised. After all, she told me which brushes to use and how to hold them, which strokes to make for a particular effect, and how to use a simple color palette. Nevertheless, the subsequent similarity in our work amazed me. In short, what I experienced with her proved what I knew to be true in other areas of life—we become like those we listen to, learn from, and spend time with.

In Philippians, Paul says, “I want to know Christ … becoming like Him in His death.” Oh, the wonder of knowing Jesus is unending! The time I spend with my Counselor, Father, Shepherd, and Teacher is well spent. He directs, corrects, encourages, and spurs me on to more extraordinary heights. I am becoming more and more like Jesus. I am certainly far from perfection, but I can see the prize. Jesus imparts His attributes when I listen and am teachable. As I apply what I learn from Him, I am changed. This hallowing, or “setting-apart-ness,” is what I am striving for. It is, in fact, the heavenly masterpiece that we all, as His children, should be working toward.

Having said that, I know that it is not by works that I am saved or sanctified; it is by grace. However, grace and the love of my Savior and Teacher motivate me to serve Him in a way that pleases Him. I love this quote from the movie “Chariots of Fire” when Eric Liddell says, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” In the same way, when I paint or write, I feel God’s pleasure because that is what God created me for. But you know what? When I love my enemy, I feel God’s pleasure. When I am humble and kind and think the best of others, I feel God’s pleasure. When I love my husband and children, I feel God’s pleasure. When I forgive an offense, I feel God’s pleasure. When I admonish in love as the Spirit leads, I feel God’s pleasure. But mostly, when I sit at the feet of Jesus and spend time in prayer, confession, breathing in His Word, and being still with my Bridegroom, boy, do I feel God’s pleasure!

Father, thank you for the simplicity of obedience. You are the Good Shepherd, and following You is the most exciting way any sheep can ever live. Keep me close, Lord. Reveal to me moment by moment what brings You pleasure and teach me to do it well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and
peace in believing, that you may abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13 NJKV).

Marlene McKenna

To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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