And if we were to simplify even further, we could call it quits after step one. That would put us in the company of others who desired Christlikeness, such as Martin Luther and Augustine of Hippo who said, “Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the one who is beloved.”
Sounds good. However, in whittling our faith down to this one mandate, the question of which God you honor or love becomes paramount.
Various devout disciples have committed inspiring acts of heroism and healing as a result of their commitment to and love for God. Others have committed astounding acts of violence motivated by the same.
So, returning to the original question, the God I try to love is the God made known to me in Jesus Christ; the resurrected one who swallowed up our anger and violence with the transforming power of forgiveness and grace. The one who said our love for one another was the best indicator of our love for him.
As we near Pentecost, I’m encouraged that God, in Christ, continues to love us and help us love each other by his Spirit which sows the yeast of God’s love into our imperfect lives through Scripture, worship, mission and days lived out in the family of faith.
I’ll let more advanced theologians speculate on step three. My to-do list is full enough with steps one and two.
We are given to know that the term is born out from what is declared in Acts 11:25-26. “And the disciples were called ‘Christians’ first at Antioch.” Christian means Christian-like.
Both terms, “Christian and Christ-like,” receive their weight of power from the community called “church.” Consider again Acts: “They assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people.”
As such, to be a Christ-like Christian is to be called to mission. The core of being Christian and Christ-like disciples is “praxis,” which is Greek for “deed.” To practice the deed of true discipleship is being Christ-like.
Jesus’ lesson of what to honor and respect – first, the honor given to the Father; secondly, to love one another – are indeed Christ-like practices.
But going beyond these practices of honor, consider James 1:22 and 2:17:
“But be ye doers of the word” and “Faith, if it hath not works is dead.”
To be Christ-like, the Bible speaks to keeping and spreading the word as pleasing God. Faith must be practiced to please him.