Christianity was supposed to be about becoming like Jesus. We went in the wrong direction.
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“Until Christ be Formed in You”


Paul in writing the Galatians describes this condition which he expects to occur with them. The Galatians had begun their Christian life on the right path, but had allowed themselves to be diverted to follow a path of works directed towards the Jewish law. This phrase used for the Galatians speaks to a vulnerability of new or dormant Christians to error.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we get a picture of Christian maturity (Eph 4:13, 15). This idea of “Christ-likeness” being expected of Christians might seem strange to those more familiar with denominational Christianity. Franchise brand Christianity can offer a package of doctrine and a set of requirements that imply assurance of a “ticket to heaven’ upon completion. For example, baptism, church membership, tithing, saying a special prayer, repentance, or making Jesus lord of your life can be presented as criteria. Once the minimum requirements have been met, one may be assured that there is nothing left to do.

The Galatians had also been assured that once they completed certain criteria that they also could be assured of their destination. In addition to new Christians being vulnerable to deception as were the Galatians, we find that Christians who have failed to mature are also vulnerable to contention with other Christians (1Cor 3:1-3). In addition to the natural human tendency to remain at rest, modern Christians today through years of watching TV, sitting in classrooms, and even listening to preachers, have developed an additional passivity that further inhibits active seeking of Christ-likeness.

In Proverbs chapter 2:1-11 a description is given regarding obtaining wisdom and discernment. In it are the following verbs; receive, hide incline, apply, criest, liftest, seekest, and searchest. This level of initiative is also implied when Jesus told his hearers to enter in by the straight (narrow) gate. He said that few would “find” (implying active seeking) it. That modern Christianity often seems to be presented free of difficulty and with only minimum requirements was captured in 1843 with the publication of “The Celestial Railroad” by Nathaniel Hawthorn. In it he writes of a modern improvement parallel to Pilgrim’s Progress, a railroad that offers a fast and easy trip to supposedly the same destination.

Christians can be reluctant to consider any program of spiritual maturity (Christ-likeness) because significant effort such as with athletic achievement is anticipated. However, Christianity offers improvement results greatly aided by God himself, the only requirement is for us to stop that which hinders God. For example, our walking by the flesh hinders his Spirit from being able to make us better people (Gal 5:17, 22-23). Our attachments to the things of this world can prevent a renewed mind (Rom 12:2). Our pride can resist the humility that is the “mind of Christ” (Phil 2:3-7). Our selfishness can resist the selflessness that defines Christ (2Cor 5:15).

Perhaps the greatest hindrance to Christ being formed in us is neglecting our connection to God through his word. More than an historical narrative or story book, God’s word is active (Is 55:10-11, Col 3:16, Heb 4:12). God’s word is truth (John 17:17). It is the word of life (Phil 2:16). Christ is even called the word of God (John 1:14). The path to Christian maturity is not one of complacency, comfort, dormancy, or neglect.



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