Scripture says that those who love God and have been called by Him are predestined to be "conformed" to the image of Christ. But what does this mean? What does it mean to be "Christ-like"?
conform: to act in accord with the prevailing standard; to be or become similar in form, nature, or character; to be in harmony or accord; to adapt, adjustThe standard for the Christian is Jesus, and those called by God are to reflect His very nature as they are changed by the power of the Spirit (II Peter 1:4).
And here is the kicker: Jesus Christ is real! He is not a myth, a figment of man's imagination, or a generic moniker for things we consider "good". He is literally the Word of God who was made flesh and dwelt amongst men. He has a distinct character, nature, and personality. There are things He likes, and things He dislikes. Faith in Christ results in an actual transformation so that - even now - we will be as He is (I John 4:17).
Yet, if we went by the professions of many Christians, one might think that Jesus is schizophrenic. There is the gay Christian...liberal Christian...hip hop Christian...feminist Christian...conservative Christian...Southern Baptist Christian...Charismatic Christian. Jesus is like the Baskin Robbins flavor of the month where each and every person has his own version. But what do these qualifiers really mean? It means that we do not want to be conformed to Jesus; rather we are conforming HIM to our own image.
Since we are not in agreement with Jesus just as He is, we fragment Him into pieces. The parts of Him we like, we accept. The parts we don't like, we replace with our own ideologies. The end result is that we wind up with our own flavor of Christianity.
However, the truth is that Jesus Christ is real; and if we claim to belong to Christ, but do not bear His image, then we are simply lying to ourselves. We cannot append anything else to Him. It cannot be Jesus and...such and such. It must be Christ alone.
We must be conformed to His image. It is not enough to name His name, and yet not have His nature within. Such will find themselves outside of the Kingdom, no matter how much they have professed in this life to belong to Him.
In the message below, Pastor Zac Poonen discusses the topic of what it really means to be conformed to the image of Christ, so that we may all examine ourselves to see if we be in the faith.