On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription: James Butler Bonham–no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom.
No portrait of Jesus exists either. But his likeness is to be seen in us, his followers, as we grow to maturity.
Maturity equals a life that resembles Christ. No other meaning may be allowed to substitute. All other meanings will be lesser, man-made alternatives that disguise the all-demanding standard God sets before us in the Scriptures. Granted, age, knowledge, activity, and zeal would be easier standards by far. But God’s standard, his meaning of maturity is none of these things. The only measurement that counts is being like Jesus.
If the goal of the Christian life is to resemble Christ, then there must be some steps that we can take in our journey to reach our destination. These steps are not difficult. We cannot be spectators in spiritual growth. By consistently practicing certain mechanics GROWTH will occur. Here are 7 activities for you to practice this year so you will take on the likeness of Jesus.
- Get accountable. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2 NIV). Maturity flourishes with accountability. Granted, no one wants to be accountable much less to be held accountable, yet nothing like accountability will take us to maturity. Who will hold you accountable this year?
- Read the Bible daily. “The Bereans . . . examined the Scriptures every day” (Acts 17:11 NIV). The Bible is food for the believer. It becomes the source of spiritual nourishment and sustaining strength. Have you determined your Bible reading plan for this year?
- Offer yourself in worship. “Let us not give up meeting together , as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another” (Heb. 10:25 NIV). Every member of the human race was created to worship. Our lives begin to resemble what it worships. Therefore, if we want to resemble Christ we must worship him. And if must be an all the time thing not a sometime thing. Unless we are prepared to worship God with all of our lives, we will find it nearly impossible to worship God for one hour on Sunday. Will you make a commitment to be in church to worship each Sunday this year?
- Witness for Christ. Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8 NIV). If Jesus is alive and growing in us then a natural outgrowth is to share him with others. Witnessing brings all the other disciplines of spiritual growth into practice. Take a moment and list the unbelieving people you know that you will share your faith with this year.
- Take time to pray. Again Jesus said, “If you remain in me, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you” (John 15:7 NIV). Prayer is dialogue with God. It is not texting God or sending him an email. Prayer comes out of a relationship with God. It is a personal conversation with God. People who resemble Christ spend time with him in prayer.
- Honor God by giving financially to the church. “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it’” (Mal. 3:8-10 NIV). There can be no significant Christian growth without the money we have at our disposal being placed in the Lord’s hands for his use. Financial giving to God’s work is not a debt I owe but a seed I sow for growth to continue in my life. To take the other steps and leave off tithing is like going to the fitness center, exercising on the equipment, without working up a sweat. We are not giving all of ourselves if we aren’t giving our money to God’s house. What financial commitment will you make this year to God’s work?
If you incorporated these steps, imagine the difference it would make in your life by the end of next year. Take a moment and commit to these practices in 2016.