by Michael Okyere Asante
(Published in LIC Magazine 2012, Edition 1)
If you have given your life to Jesus Christ, it implies you want to be like Jesus. This is why you are called a Christian the moment you give your life to Christ. You don’t publish your new found faith before people get to know of it; the transformation that occurs in your life becomes evident to them (2 Cor. 5:17). The disciples were called Christians because they lived like Christ (Acts 11:26).
You would agree with me, however, that you may not have been told what it really takes to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. You were probably made to understand that by giving your life to Christ, life would run smoothly; no challenges, no problems, and no bankruptcy. Then, when you gave your life to Christ, you began to realise that the journey comes with its own challenges, and then, like the Israelites, you wished you had never left “Egypt”. Your reason for wanting to become like Jesus Christ—maybe in order to become rich—was thus misplaced. The purpose of this article is to help you answer one question: What would I go through to be like Jesus?
So, what will you go through to become like Jesus?
You will …
… be tempted
Jesus Christ was tempted by the Devil (Matt. 4) and those who listened to Him (Luke 10:25; 11:16; 20:20-23; John 8:3-9). As a follower of Jesus, you’ll be tempted (James 1:14, 15). So, where do temptations come from? Temptations come from the devil (the tempter) and from us:
For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. (1 Thes. 3:5)
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (Jas. 1:14)
God does not tempt us:
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. (James 1:13)
Temptation is not sin. Giving in to temptation is sin. Jesus was tempted, yet he never sinned. This is what makes Jesus Christ able to help us overcome our temptations.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. (Heb. 4:15, NIV)
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Cor. 10:13)
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Heb. 2:18, NIV)
Could it be that Jesus was tempted to fornicate, steal, fight, lie, etc.? It’s possible: Jesus was tempted “in every way, just as we are—yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15, my emphasis)
From the above Scriptures we see that the problem is not that we cannot overcome temptations; the problem is that even when God has provided a way of escape, we close the door. This is what prevents us from overcoming temptations—not the devil, not God—but ourselves. Bosch said, “Two forces surge within my breast—the one is foul, the other blest; the “new” I love, the “old” I hate; the one I feed will dominate.”
Whenever you’re tempted to do wrong, ask yourself, “… How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9)
… be slandered and hated
Jesus Christ experienced some of the harshest forms of slandering. To slander is to make a false statement about someone, normally to damage the person’s reputation or make the person unpopular. The Jews said He was possessed by a demon (Jn. 8:48), and the Pharisees claimed he cast out demons by the power of Beelzebub (Matt. 12:24). Have you ever been slandered at the work place and it cost you or almost cost you your job? Jesus was slandered, and it cost Him the life that He gave for you. How much more can we give to God even if it would cost us to lose our jobs? There are people who lost their jobs because they were not in support of a dubious activity in the workplace. But praise be to God; they are reaping the benefits of their honesty. When you are falsely accused or slandered, know that everything (including the false accusation) is working for your good. (Rom. 8:28)
Hatred also contributed to Jesus’ crucifixion. The teachers of the law so hated Jesus that anything he said was not right. Will you also be hated as a follower of Jesus Christ? Listen to the answer the One you are following gives:
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. (Luke 21:17)
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18)
The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? (Matt. 10:24, 25)
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15:19)
… go through trials and tribulation
As a Christian, you will go through trials and tribulations. It is not true that when you give your life to Christ every kind of ‘trouble’ ceases. That is a lie from the enemy’s camp. The One you are following faced trials and tribulations. Peter encourages us to rejoice in our trials so that “the trial of (our) faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:7)
… be betrayed
Where you ever betrayed when you were not born again? Do you still experience betrayal in your life? Don’t be worried. The One you’re following faced the worst forms of betrayal. If it happened to Him, it will happen to you. Why? It is because you want to be like Him. Listen to Him speak:
And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. (Luke 21:16)
One major cause of betrayal is the love of this world. Judas Iscariot loved the riches of this world, betraying Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver coins.
… be denied, rejected and deserted
Peter denied knowing Jesus Christ on three occasions. (Matt. 26:69-74) What a sad day it was for Peter; he cried when he realised what he had done. (Matt. 26:75) Even the remaining disciples of Jesus Christ “forsook him, and fled.” (Matt. 26:56)
Put yourself in Jesus’ shoes; how would you have felt? Denial, rejection, and desertion are some of the worst things that will ever happen to you as a Christian. If you want to be like Jesus, or if you are becoming like Jesus, expect them.
So why do people deny or reject their friends? Amongst the reasons are envy, jealousy, greed, fear and ignorance. Jesus was rejected by the Jews because they (the Jews) were ignorant of the Scriptures, not in the sense that they didn’t know the Scriptures, but in the sense that they didn’t understand the Scriptures. They were also envious and jealous because of the many miracles Jesus Christ performed and the crowd that followed him.
Paul, a follower of Jesus Christ, was also deserted by his partner in missionary work. Writing to Timothy, Paul said, “Demas deserted me, having loved this present age.” (2 Tim. 4:10)
The good news is that whenever those who walked with God faced challenges, these challenges served as paths to reaching their God-given assignments. Consider this: if Jesus had not been betrayed and falsely accused, do you think He would have been crucified?
When the devil thinks that he is preventing you from moving ahead, he does not realize that God is using his actions to bring His will to pass in your life. Dear friend, every challenge is a key to the door of opportunity.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible.