One of my favorite bands growing up was Switchfoot. Whether you have heard of them or not, I encourage you to check them out. One of their hit songs was “This is Your Life.” (If you want, you can find it here.) Through the song, the lyrics repeat the probing question, “Are you who you want to be?” That question has been sticking in my brain for the last couple of weeks. Am I who I want to be? Do I even know who I want to be? How do I get to where I want to be?
Let me answer the second question first. Yes, I know who I want to be. I have a picture in my head of the kind of man I am growing into. I want to be like Jesus, in every way possible. I want to think like Jesus, love like Jesus, and act like Jesus. This is, I believe, the call for all followers of King Jesus.
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.2 Corinthians 3:18 New Living Translation (Emphasis added)
Now back to the first question, “Am I who I want to be?” I like to think that I have made progress over the years. I think I am more like Jesus today than when I was in my twenties. But am I there yet? Not by a long shot. There is still a lot of selfishness and pride in my heart that needs to be rooted out. Where Jesus loved His enemies even as He confronted them, I still struggle with wanting to win and conquer over my enemies. I am a work in progress.
Before I get to the third question, I encourage you to sit and ponder the first two. Do you know the type of man or woman you are becoming? Are you there yet? For many of us, we never ask the questions. We are too busy trying to survive adulthood to consider who we are becoming. Either that, or we have only a vague idea of wanting to be “better” without any real definition of what that looks like.
Or even worse, some have well-defined ideas about who they want to become, but their vision is shallow and self-serving. They are pursuing the path of becoming a “sigma-male” or a “ladies man.” Their definition of success in life is based on looks and wealth and sexual conquests. (I am sure there are similar female versions of these, but forgive me for not knowing the terms.)
Quite frankly, the only vision of who we are meant to be is Jesus. But how do we get there?
So now the only question remains is how? How do we become like Jesus?
- Do what Jesus did — Read the accounts of Jesus’ life and take note of the various practices and rhythms He engaged in. Jesus spent regular time in solitude and prayer with the Father. He knew the Hebrew scriptures and memorized key passages if not the entirety. He also engaged with others and spent time with close friends. This is His way of life. If you want to be like Jesus, do what Jesus did.
- Study others who are like Jesus — Find people who remind you of Jesus. Men or women who love like Jesus and are selfless and servant-hearted like Jesus. Study such people. Watch their life. Read their words. If possible, form a relationship and be discipled by them. We live in a world that idolizes youth and fads, and we are quick to platform men or women who have not yet proven themselves. Find people whose character has been formed and tested. For myself, I am taking a season to intently study the writings and lives of C. S. Lewis, Dallas Willard, and N. T. Wright. I am also on the lookout for others, whether famous or not, who I can learn from.
If we are not intentionally being formed into the character of Jesus, we may be unintentionally de-formed away from the character of Jesus. The stakes are too high for us not to take this seriously.