Being Like Christ

            Baptized children of God are spiritual soldiers for Christ in His fight against the devil. Christ’s followers are commanded to exemplify Jesus because He is the only man to follow God and remain sinless. Amongst others, there are four qualities that Christ possessed and any skilled spiritual soldier should have if they desire to be effective for Him in their fight against evil. They are: courage, compassion, generosity, and sense of community. Compassion is necessary because it prevents weapons used for war from becoming tools of merciless cruelty. Generosity helps foster feelings of humanity and is nearly impossible to achieve without a sense of community. Lastly, courage is the final step because it encourages people to carry out their righteous thoughts despite the presence of any obstacles.

Jesus is desiring His soldiers to be courageous instead of fearless. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to act despite being afraid. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus was afraid in the garden of Gethsemane. Matthew 26:38 (NIV) records Jesus telling His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Being fearful, Jesus sought comfort and strength from His fellow believers, but more importantly, He chose to lean on God. Jesus prayed three times for God’s will to be achieved above all else. God heard His prayer and got ensured that He had what was necessary for Him to get through the worst experience of His life, His death on the cross.

Both in life and in death, Jesus’ courage to act righteously emboldened Him to be compassionate toward all. Even while He was grieving or tired, Jesus chose to have compassion toward others. After hearing about the death of John the Baptist, Matthew 14:13-14 reads, “Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Jesus then proceeded to feed the crowd of 5,000 till they were abundantly full and had 12 baskets of food left over.

By teaching and displaying righteous love, Jesus was able to encourage sinners as well as saints to become generous through a sense of community. Luke 6:27-36 says, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?…But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

Jesus’ greatest act of compassion, generosity, and courage toward mankind happened on the cross. In honor of that sacrifice, spiritual soldiers in Christ are encouraged to let Him renew their soul. This way they can glorify God and become living sacrifices through their spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1-2) One aspect of a Christian’s spiritual worship are the righteous works they do for God. Colossians 3:15-17 says, ”Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Therefore, may all soldiers of Christ be encouraged by Jesus and the spirit of truth to carry out God’s will of perfect love. Let us become skilled spiritual soldiers and do our best to become like Christ!