This post will be somewhat related to my previous post on being a faithful and true witness. Where that post was related to speaking though, this post will relate to being and doing.
First John 3:2 says, "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is." This verse tells us that in the end we will be like Christ, because the sight of Him in His totality will transform us to be like Him. Thus we could say that to the degree we see Christ as He is to that same degree we will be like Him. It is impossible for us to emulate something we have never seen, or to manifest a virtue we unless we have an idea of how that virtue would look in a given situation. This is one reason why we often fall short of our calling as Christians, sometimes we know what we should do and don't do it, but many times even when we want to follow Christ and be like Him, we miss it because our idea of Christ falls far short of what He really is like. Often we tolerate and even condone all sorts of little things that are not Christlike, and accept it as the norm.
This why discipleship is important, so that younger believers can see what Christianity really looks like. There are a few instances I remember of people I know reacting with grace in trying situations and as I saw it I knew I was seeing "The Way." I was seeing Christ in that person living His life through them in that situation. It gave me something to strive for. Sometimes, though, we can be in a situation where we do not have someone to emulate in our vision. It could be that we are the ones that are to disciple others, and yet we realize that we know so little ourselves.
Thankfully even without a human role-model we still have the God's Word. Scripture and especially the Gospels show us so much of Christ that if we properly study and apply it, we will become more and more like Christ. In the Gospels we see Jesus in all sorts of situations which can be applied to our lives if we are willing to make the effort.
Another way we see Christ is through our direct encounters with Him in His presence. We can learn a lot from these. It was in personal times of worship that I was first struck by the graciousness of God and how He is so humble that we often do not realize how much He humbles Himself to be around us, and sometimes we even take Him for granted. To me that graciousness became a goal to aspire toward. Other times I have had the Lord give me kind words in spite of my bad attitudes at the time, and learned how kindness can sometimes cut far deeper than a sever rebuke ever could. When God reveals Himself to us it is not just that we should know it, but that we might become it.
There were two apostles specifically that I think saw attributes of Christ and then manifested them. The first one was John, who was the apostle of love because he was first the apostle that Jesus loved. It was as he received of this love and saw its workings in his own life that he was able to give it out to others. The second apostle was Paul who in 1 Timothy 1:16 refers to himself as a pattern of longsuffering. Paul manifested the longsuffering of God throughout his many shipwrecks, beatings and other trials, but first he had been a recipient of the longsuffering of God who had waited for the right moment to appear to him on the Damascus road as he was persecuting the believers. It was likely Paul's own realization of all that Christ had borne with in him that enabled him to bear so much himself.
May God grant each of us a greater realization of Himself that we may be it to others! Amen.