BEING LIKE CHRIST
AUTHOR – BILL TAYLOR
COPYRIGHT 2017 – BILL TAYLOR
PUBLISHED BY BILL TAYLOR AT Shakespir
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Special thanks to Shila and Pragna for their encouragement and inspiration
None Like You
Hebrews 1 – 3: “The Son ( Jesus ) is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins he sat down at the right hand of majesty in heaven”.
Recently I wrote a poem that I decided to preface this book with. I have a friend who writes a daily “blog type” email to a group of folks. He requested that his readers take a shot at writing something of a personal nature in “poetry form” to share with one another. I, not being a poet, decided to pass until I was reminded by God that I’m not a writer either, but I write.
So, with my sincere apologies to “Mr. Shakespeare” and with my reminder as motivation, I was once again overwhelmingly reminded how wonderful my Jesus truly is. How immeasurably life changing His love is. How earth shaking His reality is. How all-encompassing His amazing grace is. How unfathomably deep His compassion is. How radically different His heart is. A heart that saw me as worthy of His attention. A heart I so love and desire above all to emulate in my life.
Once finished my attempt at poetry, it seemed interestingly applicable to the subject matter of our book. Thank you Basil for your prompting and thank you God for your reminder that all I do, I do “through” You! As I peruse the landscape of history I stand fully aware that there has never been, nor never shall be, another like You Jesus! I’m so very thankful that I know You as such.
You’ve always been, and always shall be
What mind comprehends, such majesty
You’ve torn the curtain, allowing me sight
To behold through a cross, Your glorious light
A cross where my Jesus, expressed love complete
I am left with no option, but to fall at His feet
And fall I will, to worship and adore
The One who love me first, and will forevermore
Deserving I’m not, and yet loved with a grace
A grace when considered, brings tears to my face
Loved everlasting, with a promise You will
Complete what you’ve started, in a sinner named Bill
Much less of me , and much more of You
Is the cry of my heart, in all that I do
I know You so well, as I do me
The me that must go, to make room for Thee
Whatever is needed, I invite You to do
For this simple reason, there is none like You!
If my desire to be like Jesus, it would seem of paramount importance to know His true heart and character. I know this: He’s nothing like me! I admire Him so greatly for that very reason. This is truer than true: He is EXTRAORDINARY!
As I study the scriptures from beginning to end I discover the revelation of an amazing heart that calls to me saying: “Following Me isn’t complicated Bill, but it is demanding”!
Demanding? Very! It will go against every natural instinct I have as a human. It “demands” ME getting over ME to the point where Jesus can impart his nature in me as a replacement for my own. A “replacement” not a “co-habitor”!
That will translate into YOU becoming more important to me than ME! My human nature is far too fickle and inferior to produce such a superior outcome. This is the non-negotiable aspect of my walk with God that can’t have “shared supremacy” at its center if I am to know Him and His love for you, as I so desire.
When I gaze upon Jesus I see altogether loveliness awaiting my total immersion and conversion.
What an invitation our Lord has offered me: All of Him for all of me! Equally so, all of Him for all of you!
I’m simply not that enamored by me to say “no thank you” to His invite! If there is a constant refrain of “none like You” reverberating through my heart, then tell me who else would I want to be like? The goal isn’t “fixed” but rather “new”. “Brand New”! As my desire, it’s not a better me I’m after, but a more accurate reflection of Him! While sounding similar, those two aren’t the same and I know it.
To experience the “latter”, a “real life” spiritual baptism must take place. A real dying to self and a real resurrection in and through Jesus. A real ME saying goodbye to ME, is of the utmost importance. Symbolism must be replaced with reality as Jesus becomes the predominate and determining voice in all things pertaining to my life.
As the great worship song declares as a prayer: “My life is not my own, to You I belong, I give myself away so You can use me”. That prayer comes complete with my understanding that the “ME” factor in the equation must be summarily dismissed. I will only get in the way. I will only contaminate the desired beauty of the act itself. “A little leaven, leavens the whole loaf”. I’m admittedly the “little leaven”.
To walk in a constant awareness of my “purchased” status is emphatically important. It reminds me that I’m “owned”. To emulate my Owner it seems obvious to me that I must know the heart of the One who owns me.
Before “giving myself away” to someone, it’s incumbent on me to thoroughly investigate the fullness of what that someone is like, keeping in mind, Jesus was and is the most radical One who has ever laid foot on this planet! The question is: How different am I willing to be? God says: I will make the changes but are you aware of the changes I will make?
Jesus Washed His Feet
In chapter thirteen of the gospel of John, we read the story of the “last supper”. Jesus knows this will be His final opportunity pre-crucifixion to be with His disciples. The timing is interesting in that “Passover” was soon to be celebrated by the Jewish nation.
A Passover that for many hundreds of years had always included a sacrificial lamb, emblematic as a reminder of the time the angel of death “Passed Over” the homes of the Israelites in Egypt as they painted the blood of a lamb on their doors.
But this Passover would be different as Jesus would lay down His life as “The Sacrificial Lamb”. He would be the fulfillment of all the symbolism that had proceeded Him. Also interesting: One of the original stipulations regarding “Passover” was, no foreigners allowed! You needed to be Jewish or willing to become Jewish through the male surgery of circumcision to participate.
Three years prior to this “last supper”, John The Baptist introduced to all, in reference to Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. A world that now included us. Foreigners from every nation, tribe and tongue, now graciously included in the redemption plan of God! It’s why we can shout with confidence: “Oh death where is thy sting, Oh grave where is thy victory”! As foreigners we couldn’t say that, but now as the adopted by God, we can and we should, at the top of our lungs, shout it from the rooftops! The grave couldn’t hold our Lord and nor can it hold us!
That night Jesus knew His time had come. A time that was pre-destined from the beginning of time. In His darkest moments He ministers to His disciples by washing their feet, which would not have been the expected by His followers treatment. There wasn’t any time prior that Jesus had done such a thing. The Holy Son of God, washing mere mortals feet? Even our friend Peter tried to stop Jesus, insisting himself to be unworthy of such a gesture.
But Jesus continued to the very last man, including Judas! He looked into the eyes of the one He knew would betray Him and washed his feet. Inconceivable don’t you think! The bible says: “He loved “them” to the end”. I’m left wondering if “them” included Judas?
Perhaps this is a pictorial of what Jesus meant when He earlier said to love, bless, forgive, and pray for our enemies? Perhaps knowing that the identity of His betrayer would soon be realized by his other disciples, Jesus was leaving an “un-conditional” standard of love for them to follow.
Knowing my Lord, I wouldn’t dismiss the idea too quickly. Shortly after this moment of gracious surprise, Jesus re-attached the ear of a soldier that Peter had removed with a sword. A Roman Centurion who had come to arrest Him warranted His grace. Do I need to mention: He loved me when I was my least lovable!
Only a few hours later, Jesus from a cross, with His life draining out of Him, would with His final breath, pray for His executioners forgiveness!
It had only been a week previous that Jesus had entered Jerusalem with the multitudes waving palm branches with their shouts of jubilation: “Hosanna, Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”. That vocabulary changed quickly and dramatically to shouts of: “Crucify Him”, a few days later when the throngs realized the king they wanted Jesus to be, wasn’t going to be to their liking.
King of Israel was their desire. One who would take down their hated enemy Rome. “The King Of Kings” was His already heavenly established mantel of wearing! Jesus made clear to all: “My kingdom is not of this world”. Their response: “Sorry not good enough for us, crucify Him”!
The bible describes Jesus with many descriptive phrases. The hardest one for me to read? “A man of sorrows”. The climate changes of His “fair weather” fan base, no doubt contributed to those sorrows. But folks here’s the true beauty of our Lord. He was never so sorrowful to stop loving! Amazing! Truly, there is none like You Lord!
She Must Be Stoned?
This Jesus we so love found himself in “strange company” more often than not as He sojourned throughout His three year ministry on earth.
The dregs of society were His devoted companions for the most part. Fishermen, tax collectors, lepers, the blind, the disabled and the religiously labelled unclean, represented the majority of His congregational demographic. Quite the un-impressive group! To borrow a wonderful Andy Stanley quote: “Those who were nothing like Him, liked Him and He liked them”.
Jesus was perfectly comfortable in their company which I find profoundly insightful. Combined with his discomfort regarding the religious elite, we catch a glimpse into the beautiful heart of our Lord. He came to seek and save those who were lost. The “dregs” knew they were lost. The “religious folk” thought otherwise, thus their lack of attendance and attention to His teachings.
As we ingest one biblical story after another concerning our Lord’s interactions with people we notice, not a moment invested in the mindsets of man, but rather heaven’s perspective always being His ultimate and determining factor.
Man often has opinions based on conveniently incomplete information while heaven knows all as would be the case in the story of a woman caught in adultery.
To be clear: Accused and condemned are two very different expressions with two very different results when Jesus applies his insight and grace to the story.
John 8 – 2 > 11: “At dawn He ( Jesus ) appeared again in the temple courts where all the people gathered around Him and He sat to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now, what do You say? They were using this question as a trap in order to have a basis of accusing Him.
To pause for a quick moment: The accusers see this as a “no lose” proposition. If Jesus says “don’t stone her” then He’s breaking the law of Moses. Gotcha! But even better, if He says “stone her”, His compassion comes into question amongst those present and the “win-win” scenario comes into play. They get rid of the evidence of their own sin while soiling our Lord’s well established reputation! “It doesn’t get better than this”, they thought. They were very wrong as our story continues and confirms.
“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger. When they kept on questioning Him He straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”. Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her: “Woman where are they? Has no one condemned you?”. “No one sir”, she said. “Then neither do I condemn you”, He declared. “Now go and leave your life of sin”.
We believe the Lord’s writings on the ground included the names of the accusers who had slept with the woman. Interestingly they “all” left, the older ones first. With their sin revealed, their win-win scenario had become their lose-lose nightmare. They had dragged a woman, who they had abused and used, in front of a crowd to humiliate her with the hope of trapping Jesus, and it was in fact they, who became the humiliated and the trapped.
Jesus had restored the woman’s stolen dignity and sent her on her way, having been justifiably accused, but not condemned. This is who Jesus is! The restorer not the condemner. He’s a life resurrector not a funeral director!
Amazingly in my opinion, throughout this entire story the woman never defends herself. She’s not re-accusing her accusers. She’s not presenting to Jesus the sixteen reasons for her behavior. She simply throws herself at the merciful feet of Jesus and He responds mercifully!
She arrives on the scene as a justifiably accused adulterous sporting no excuses, and leaves a graciously forgiven daughter of the Most High God and a co-heir of Christ, as she embarks on her “new life”! Only the love of Jesus, applied to a contrite heart, can change a person’s story that dramatically and quickly! Truly, there is none like You Lord!
Today You Will Be With Me
Three crosses. Two belonging to men who are hanging there for good reasons. They are guilty of their crimes and being punished as such. But the One in the middle is sinless and perfect in every way. He only did good throughout His now waning life. With mere moments remaining in His grotesque ordeal a request is presented to Jesus from one of the men suspended next to Him.
Luke 23 – 42 > 43: “Then he ( the criminal ) said, “Jesus remember me when You come into Your kingdom”. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise”.
Folks, we can only imagine the quality of the heart that would care about a common criminal in the middle of the worst day of His life. In excruciating pain and with the life blood flowing from His body, He’s still unable to consider “Himself” in the equation. Earlier Jesus had said: “I came to serve not be served”, and He stayed faithful to His calling with His final breath.
With forgiveness on His lips for His abusers, He dismisses His spirit as a final act of confirmation that: “No man takes My life, I lay it down and I will take it back up”! Which He did as predicted on the third day, but not without first setting a standard for those who would follow Him. To be like Me it can’t be about you, but rather the one standing next to you!
“Do you still want to be like Me”? says Jesus. “Or do you just want the cool stuff. The walking on water stuff. The healing the sick stuff. The raising the dead stuff. The writing books stuff”!
Not a decision of spiritual romanticism for me. It’s deadly serious in that it involves my death so that Christ can become “completely” alive in me. All of me for all of Him!
Oh I can fantasize how amazing it would have been to be there at the tomb of Lazarus when he exited that place of death. To be standing next to Peter on that water sends a euphoric chill of excitement down my spiritual spine. How about being present when Jesus touched those lepers making their skin as new as that of a baby. WOW! Amazing no doubt.
But I don’t think that’s what Jesus is asking me. I think His query is in regards to a cross that I was asked to “pick up” and follow Him. “My cross” with my name on it which was deemed the cost, of being His disciple.
I can sing about, “wanting to be like Jesus”, until my tongue falls off. I can quote the great Apostle Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ”, finishing it off with a hearty AMEN Paul!
But have I? Have “I” truly been voluntarily dismissed and replaced by the person of Christ?
God is challenging me to count the cost with a full understanding regarding the One I say I want to be like. Is Jesus the healer, the water walker, and the resurrector? Absolutely!
But He’s also the One who hung on a cross selflessly, only concerned for the one hanging next to Him. He’s the “forgiver” from a cross. He’s the “servant” not the served. He’s the washer of feet and asks me to wash yours. The question: Is that the Jesus I want to be like because that’s who Jesus is?
Do I want that side of Jesus to be a dominate factor in my life? Do I want to “withhold nothing” so that He can become everything, knowing that everything includes His selfless entirety.
I don’t believe I get to pick and choose what parts of Christ I find appealing, and then buy into just those. I don’t believe the cross was meant to make me a consumer but rather an emulator.
Much of what I write is experiential and often recently so. So the season I’m in, is as described in this book. I pray that I would have the needed spiritual integrity to look into my Savior’s eyes and declare with all the sincerity that my spirit can muster: “Jesus, to the measure that I have received the fullness of Your blessing in my life, I choose to be a giver by the same measure that I have been a receiver. There is no part of me worthy of retaining, if the cost is any part of You”.
I believe the surpassing worth awaiting my exclusion from the equation, will allow me to agree experientially with Paul as he declared: What I’ve lost I count as nothing! Paul lost “a lot” so for him to be able to say what he said, just imagine the reward!
I want to know Christ. “All of Christ” and the power of His resurrection. For a resurrection to be my reality, there must be a death first! That’s not morbid news folks, but rather a gloriously, by me awaited, net result!
There’s so much more of Christ to experience and I know it in my soul. Much deeper waters for my immersion. Holy Spirit continue to breath into the sails of my life pushing me closer to Jesus and further away from myself! Take me to places in You I’ve never been. This is my desire Lord!
[FREE E-BOOKS BY BILL TAYLOR]
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK ONE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK TWO
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK THREE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK FOUR
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK FIVE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK SIX
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK SEVEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK EIGHT
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK NINE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK TEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK ELEVEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK TWELVE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK THIRTEEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK FOURTEEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK FIFTEEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK SIXTEEN
THE ROSE AND THE THORN
WILLING HEARTS – NO LIMITS
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
THE SECOND CROSS
BULLS IN CHINA SHOPS
FAITH IS A JOURNEY
THE HEART IS SACRED
REJOICE – IT’S A NEW DAY!
BLESSED & CONTENT
MY FRIEND – MY PEACE – MY LORD
YOU DECIDE – CHOICES
THE REAR VIEW MIRROR
HIS LOVE MADE PERFECT
AMAZING GRACE – AMAZING SAVIOR
TALK AND WALK
GUIDE ME HOLY SPIRIT
GOD IS BIGGER
GETTING OVER “STUFF”
FAITH – GOD IS NOT INTIMIDATED
BEING LIKE CHRIST