To Become Like Christ

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Frank Laubach

Becoming sons of God is our goal. This means that we are to become
like God’s Son Jesus Christ. In order to do that, we must ask the
questions: “What is Christ like? How does He behave toward His Father,
and toward His Father’s work?”

The first thing we notice about Jesus is His everlasting
obedience to the Father’s will. The Gospel of John says, 49 times in 49
different ways, words that mean simply that the Son can do nothing of
Himself and that He does only what He sees the Father doing: “I have
come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who
sent me” (John 6:38, NKJV).

 So to become perfectly Christlike means to become perfectly obedient to the will of God.

This is what Christ asks us to do. “If you keep My
commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s
commandments and abide in His love….You are my friends if you do
whatever I command you” (John 15:10-14).

Experience has taught us that such total obedience is
impossible if we have to do it in our own strength. If that is the price
of sonship we are defeated from the start. Much of the time our wills
refuse even to want to be so submissive.

If we force our wills to a reluctant obedience we shall be
far below the obedience of Jesus. So, at first glance, there seems to
be an impossible gulf fixed between us and Jesus.

But Jesus promises that His Holy Spirit will enter us and
give us the will to do God’s will. Then we will obey, not because duty
is the “stern daughter of the Voice of God,” but because there is
nothing in the universe we want so much to do.

When we love somebody enough, our supreme joy is to do
what he wants done. So the Holy Spirit makes us love God so much that we
yearn with no desire except to please Him. Such perfect love transforms
every hard task and even death itself into joy.

Jesus’ incredible, never-ending listening and saying “Yes”
made it possible for God to trust Him with literally everything. The
Bible says that God has “put everything into His hands, everything in
the universe,” because He found that He could depend on Him so

It is not sacrilegious to say that Jesus earned the
confidence of the Father by being trustworthy every moment, under every
trial, in every detail. The Son and the Father have no disputes because
the Son never disagrees. The Son knows that the Father is always right.
The Father never finds it necessary to persuade a reluctant Son.

We too are becoming sons of God, and we must learn this
unflinching loyalty that never falters when a cross lies ahead. This is
the first Christlike quality.

Perfect in Love

The second supreme quality in Jesus Christ was that He was perfect in love. In what way was He perfect in love?

I think, in the first place, that His love reached out
farther than ours. We love our family most, then our intimate friends,
and then our school, then our club, and then our nation. The farther
from ourselves we go, the weaker our love becomes. But Christ’s love
reaches all the way around the world.

In the second place, it is a warm love, always warm, no
matter how far it reaches. It is like the sun. Compared to His bright
sun, our love is like twinkling stars. His healing power was so much
greater than ours because His love was so much greater than ours, and
what we find impossible He found easy.

Jesus’ love had a healing quality. It healed and cured
instantly all that it touched. It turned disease into health and sin
into saintliness.

His love was contagious. It flowed into others and then
flowed out from others who came under His spell. Indeed, it was so
contagious that we can see it in people’s eyes and faces and hear it in
their voices today, after 2,000 years. People of every climate and every
tongue fall under His spell and catch that strange kind of love that He
had. It was a compassionate love that reached down to the depths.

It was not an easy-going affability. It was a mighty force. It wasn’t a gentle breeze; it was a terrific, powerful wind.

When He was around, people felt His love pulling them and
rushed to Him as a piece of iron rushes to a magnet. Rulers and
oppressors felt it and trembled with fear. It wasn’t personal magnetism.
It wasn’t willpower. It was pure, strong, resistless love.

The cross is the great symbol of the extent to which
Christ will go in His love for us. “Greater love has no one than this,
than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

But on the cross He went further than dying for His
friends. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were
still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). He did not die for good
people; He died for people who did not deserve it and did not appreciate
His death.

His passion to help was so powerful that He died for us,
not because we were lovable but because we were hateful. Every angel in
the universe would loathe such creatures as we were, so He died to
change our hatefulness into lovableness.

We were helplessly caught in sin. He helped us because we
could not help ourselves. He died not only for sinners but also for His
enemies. He died to save those who crucified Him. On the cross He could
cry, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This kind
of love, so intense and so selfless, is what He depends on to save the

There are three ways to treat enemies that we find
advocated in the world today: First, kill them. Second, get as far away
from them as you can. Third, try to make them your friends.

But Jesus went beyond all three of these. He tried a
fourth way. His plan was, “Let them kill you and keep on loving them.
After you are dead they will realize how you loved them and it will
break their hearts and redeem them.” He could have killed His enemies,
but He let them kill Him.

Jesus expected that such love, set free in deeds of
compassion and self-sacrifice, could save the world. I think that there
we see behind the veil into the very heart of God.

Here we catch, for a moment, the stupendous adventure on
which God has started. He has let us try every other method under the
sun for making a good world. At last we discover that love as selfless
and as intense as the love of Jesus is our only hope of saving the

If Jesus loves like that, then we, as other sons of God, are to love like that.

We see, then, that to become like Jesus our present nature
must be transformed by Him into an intense passion to help those in
need. This is what He means when He says, “Therefore you shall be
perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

Perfect in Faith

In the third place, Jesus was perfect in faith. This is
extremely difficult for an educated man to understand. Our scientific
training insists upon testing everything, not in believing what we
cannot prove. The Christian life takes the opposite view, emphasizing
that we believe the best about God even when we cannot prove it.

Jesus had to fight a terrific battle for His faith. There
had come to Him this inner conviction that He was the Son of God. He
felt it, but He also pondered: “I am the only one who feels this way
about myself. Am I right?” He struggled 40 days in the wilderness with
that question, and when He was very hungry the voice of Satan said, “If
you are the Son of God, then turn that stone into bread and eat it. If

Again the voice of Satan said, “If you are the Son of God,
compromise and you can have the world.” It would have been a shortcut
to world conquest. He could have done it. He had powers above any civil
official or any military commander of His time.

He could have overthrown Caesar. Compromise would have
been a good shortcut. But it would have been the devil’s victory over

Our age and every age before us have been caught in the
great doubt; we are in the midst of it now. We are saying, “Trust God
and pick up your hydrogen bombs.” We trust love and hate at the same

We are compromisers. We can’t trust love, and we do not
trust God alone as Jesus did. We believe (more or less) in Jesus, but we
cannot be uncompromising in following love as He was.

The temptation of Jesus to compromise was sharpened by the
fact that the Old Testament had prophesied two kinds of Messiahs. One
was to suffer like the Messiah of Isaiah 53; the other was to come like
King David. David trusted God and killed his enemies. Jesus trusted God
and refused to lift a finger to harm anybody. He suffered but He never
made others suffer.

To be a son of God involves faith in love and goodness. To
be like Jesus we too will have to refuse to compromise with the idea of
killing our enemies. We too must put our faith wholly in love, the kind
of love Christ had.

To me, the Gospel of John is the most precious book in the
world. I believe it reveals better than all the other books the
intimate love and family relationship of Jesus and His Father.

As we see that tender family tie we begin to realize what
an incredible glory it will be to become a son of God. It will mean that
we too are to join that household of the Father and the Son.

If we are becoming sons of God, then the most beautiful
thing through all eternity will be to share the living, loving intimacy
that the Father and the Son have. They live in perfect harmony, two
wills as one, in a relationship that no words can describe: They have
perfect faith in each other, perfect love for one another, such a
oneness in their planning that Jesus could say, “I and the Father are
one” (John 10:30).

Into that wonderful family He invites us. Jesus prays this wonderful prayer:

“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be
with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given
Me” and “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in
You; that they also may be one in Us” (John 17:24, 21).

The religion of the Old Testament and all the other
religions kept God at a distance. He was holy and dangerous; the people
trembled in His presence; they could not look into His face. But when at
last we achieve sonship and become sons of God, “we shall be like
Him”—intimate with the Father, and members of His family.

Frank Laubach (1884-1970) was best known as a pioneer
in the adult literacy movement. He helped poor people around the world
better themselves by teaching them to read and write. He was also a
prolific author and accomplished speaker. Adapted from
Channels of Spiritual Power by Frank Laubach, copyright © 1955. Published by Lutterworth Press (London). Used by permission of Baker Book House Company.

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