Twelve years ago, I remember asking an older friend who was mature in faith if becoming more like Jesus meant we all become more and more alike, losing our individual personalities. I wasn’t sure what it meant to look like Jesus in my current milieu and culture; I couldn’t imagine Jesus in blue jeans. There were plenty of Christians that I didn’t want to be like back then – fake, plastic, and boring. But I didn’t like who I was either, and I wasn’t sure who I wanted to become.
In the passing years, God has shown me that the calling to become more Christ-like is not a call to conformity. We keep our personalities and uniqueness, but the Spirit works on our inner being. When Paul states in Romans 8:29 that we are predestined to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus, we are conforming not merely outwardly, but inwardly. It’s not about putting on a good act and having people admire your strength in adversity. It’s about being real as you abide in Jesus.
Whatever is inside is going to seep out through the cracks. My internal struggles involve a critical spirit, negative thinking patterns, and fear. I may think they are hidden, but they ooze out in my words and actions. For a while, I was certain they were just a part of my melancholic personality and wasn’t sure if I wanted to let go of them. Would I still have something to write about? Talk about? Would I still be able to analyze and evaluate effectively? I see now that the answer is a resounding yes – I can actually do those things even better if I fight them. And not just fight them but replace them with encouragement, positive self-talk, and dependence on Christ for strength. Another force in me, whether it be my flesh or satan, is opposing the changes, so the progress is gradual.
I see a little more clearly than I did twelve years ago. There are many beautiful women in my church today that I would love to be more like – each with different personalities and that reflect various Christ-like characteristics, manifested in different ways. They are each in the process of becoming who they are destined to be, and they are real enough to let me see it. Christ is much more multi-faceted than we could ever imagine!