God has a greater vision for what is possible in our lives than we have for ourselves. Many of us would be thrilled to simply attain the promise Jesus offered: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11: 28 – 30)
It’s true: there is a practical harmony capable of generating the rest and peace he promises. I suspect that for most of us this would be enough, but what if this wonderful invitation represented the starting point of our life in Christ? What if Jesus has something more in mind for us?
Beyond rest and peace are the staggering possibilities of living a life imitating Jesus in word, thought, attitude and deed. I believe Jesus invites us to learn from him because he intends to reproduce himself in us. He does not invite us to learn about him; he presents to each of us the incredible offer to become conformed to his image.
In Jesus, God came to earth to accomplish something greater than the forgiveness of sin. Jesus also came to earth in order demonstrate the possibilities of a life lived in harmony with the Father. Jesus was fully God and fully man; to understand his humanity is to encounter the hope that Christlikeness is possible in this life. In his earthly ministry Jesus used everyday situations to shape his disciples: paying taxes, feeding the hungry, fishing, encountering a fever at home, settling disputes between people filled with pride and competition. Jesus knew that commonplace situations contained eternal possibilities: a drink of water could change a town, coins could become cities, palm leaves could threaten an empire. Moreover, Jesus expected to leave behind a group of followers who were capable of continuing his work in every respect. His solutions transformed the most unlikely cast of characters into world-changers who operated with his priorities, lived out his example, and operated with the same authority and power as their Master.
Perhaps--for some--this vision is too large. We asked for forgiveness. Life-change is more than we have a right to expect. Except it is the Lord's own vision for us. He invites us to become just like him.
We must choose whether becoming like Jesus is possible in this life, or even desirable. If we decide that becoming like Jesus is not possible, could it be that we are avoiding facing the more difficult question of whether it is desirable?