“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
More of Jesus!, by Randall D. Kittle
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Some of you have been struggling with feelings of frustration, knowing that there must be more to church-life than merely going through the motions. You have been experiencing a season in which the Lord has revealed your need for Him in very dramatic ways. The way you see the body of Christ functioning has begun to be reduced to a simpler, purer definition of Christianity — knowing Jesus and revealing Him to others. You have discovered that any program or church activity that does not reveal Jesus is a “dead work.” Although they may be well intentioned, they are powerless to impart life or transform people.

Our Goal … Jesus!
In the midst of these changes, one conviction has grown ever brighter: your goal is to see the character of Jesus Christ — His glory, His authority, and His love. And not just to recognize it in the lives of other believers, but to see it demonstrated and displayed in your life. The Holy Spirit has given you the gift of divine dissatisfaction to prepare you for change. Your quest is to be like Jesus, not men; you want personal Christlikeness, not merely American church-life. This is a longing the Lord loves to satisfy, for He wants to use you to bring His presence into your home, church, and city.

With this new stirring of God, our goal is to have more of Jesus — to know Him, to be known by Him, and to become like Him. John taught,
“… the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). If we truly abide in Him, we will walk even “as He walked.” This is the singular requirement for truly being His Church — to want Christ’s image alone established and displayed in our hearts.

What Does It Mean to be Christlike? 
But what does it mean to be Christlike? What would your life look like if you possessed Christlikeness? I want to share with you an illustration that I believe can help us answer these questions.

What if one day Jesus were to become you? What if for 24 hours Jesus woke up in your bed, walked in your shoes, lived in your house, and assumed your schedule? Your boss became His boss, your family became His family, your pains became His pains, etc. Nothing else about your life changed. Your health did not change. Your circumstances were the same. Your schedule wasn’t altered. Your problems weren’t all solved. The one change that occurred was that for one day and one night, Jesus lived your life with His heart. All that you thought, said, and did was led by the heart of Christ. His priorities governed your every action. His passions drove all your decisions. His love directed your behavior.

Can you imagine what you would be like? Do you think people would notice a change? Would your family notice anything different? Your co-workers, would they think it was someone else disguised as you? Would your friends detect more joy and your enemies receive more mercy?

What about
you? How would you feel with God living His life through you? Would your stress level go down and your temper become less volatile? Would you still have the same concerns and worries? Would you sleep better? More importantly, would you still do what you normally do? Think about your schedule and “to do” list. With Jesus taking over your life, would any of that change?

Having His Heart
Can you image what your life might look like if Jesus became you? That is what God wants for your life. He isn’t asking you to try and figure out what He would do and copy it. He wants to transform your life so that His nature is your ordinary response. Jesus Christ’s plan for you is nothing short of giving you a new heart — His heart, so you can be fully like Him.

This is a fulfillment of the promise God gave through the prophet Ezekiel,
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws” (Ezekiel 36:26–27). Every born-again person has been given a new heart, a new spirit. Unlike the “old man” this “new man” is made in the image of God.

If you are a Christian, you already have the heart of Christ. One of the supreme yet unrealized promises of God is simply this: If you have given your life to Jesus, He has given Himself to you. He has given you a new heart and made your heart His home. It would be hard to say it any more plainly than Paul does,
“I no longer live but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). If this was true for Paul, it can be true for you and me as well; perhaps not in perfection, but at least as an unfolding progression.

If you have given your life to Jesus, Jesus has given Himself to you. The Lord has moved into your heart, unpacked His bags, and is ready to change you
“into His likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Not only do we have a new heart, we have been given the mind of Christ. Paul tells us that, “Strange as it seems, we Christians actually do have within us a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Power to Change
You might be thinking, “If I have the mind of Christ, why do I still think so much like me? If I have the heart of Christ, why do I still have the same old hang-ups? If Jesus dwells within me, why do I still get so angry when I’m cut off in traffic?”

The answer to these questions is illustrated in a story about a lady who had a small house on the seashore of Ireland at the beginning of the 20
th century. She was quite wealthy but also quite frugal. The people who knew her were surprised when she decided to be among the first to have electricity in her home. Several weeks after the installation, a meter reader appeared at her door. He asked if her electricity was working well, and she assured him it was. “I’m wondering if you can explain something to me,” he said. “Your meter shows scarcely any usage. Are you using your power? “Certainly,” she answered, “Each evening when the sun sets, I turn on my lights just long enough to light my candles; then I turn them off.”

She had tapped into the power, but wasn’t really using it. While her house was connected, it had not really been altered. As believers, don’t we make the same mistake? Too many of us are connected but not altered. Yes, occasionally we flip the switch and let the power of the Holy Spirit flow, but most of the time we live by our own strength and settle for living in the shadows of what we are meant to be. Our souls have been saved but our hearts are mostly unchanged. We are willing to trust Christ for salvation but have not cooperated with transformation. What we have failed to realize is that the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives is first and foremost designed to change them into the likeness of Christ. The gifts it empowers and the miracles it produces are of secondary importance.

Power for Transformation
God is willing to transform you into the likeness of Christ (in fact, that is His agenda for you), but you need to let the power of the Holy Spirit be fully utilized in your life — not just “turned on” temporarily when things seem too dark. It is the Holy Spirit who is God’s transforming agent for our lives. “And the Lord — who is the Spirit — makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18). When we were born again, the seed of God’s character was planted within us, but we must allow the Spirit of God to work in our lives to help transform the nature of our souls fully into His likeness. If we will allow Him uninhibited access to our lives, the powerful, ongoing work of the Holy Spirit will constantly and continually alter our lives and conform them more fully into what God intends them to be … just like His.

Father God has entrusted the Holy Spirit with the task of conforming us into the very likeness of Christ.
“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God — truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:21–24). This verse says you are to “put on” Christlikeness — a new nature that is just like God. But in order for this to happen, you must first renounce, repent of, and remove the old sinful nature and “let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” The very Spirit of Christ is living in you, empowering you to be all that He has created you to be. Don’t settle for anything less than the character of Jesus in you. God wants to complete the great work He began in our lives, to shape us into the image of Jesus Christ. If we will embrace relationship with the Holy Spirit and obedience to Him, we will find the thoughts of God, the hopes of God, and the desires of God filling our minds.

By accepting the atoning work of the Son of God we have been given the right to become the children of God. Now let us yield to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit of God so that our character can be conformed into the precious, priceless likeness of our Lord — Jesus Christ.

Doing Our Part
While we cannot make this change happen, we must cooperate with its progress. God has paid the price and made the way to take our fallen nature and transform it into His very likeness, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to continually labor to effect this change. Let us be careful not to offend the Spirit of God in any way. The Word of God tells us that the Holy Spirit can be resisted, quenched, and grieved (for more on this, see “God’s Transforming Agent,” Living Water Journal V14N4, also available online). We must obey the Lord, pursue relationship with Him, and deal graciously with others — as the Lord has dealt with us. This maintains an unhindered relationship with the Holy Spirit so He can continue to change our lives into what they were created to be. If we will cooperate with God, He will transform our little, earthly lives into the larger, eternal lives they were created to be, for He who has begun the good work in us will be faithful to complete it!

Remember, God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you as you are. He wants you to be what He created you to be — just like Jesus! The goal our heavenly Father has for us is nothing less than Christlikeness, where we possess His character and impact this world just as He would. This must become our goal as well. The Lord longs for us to have the same compassion, do the same works, and possess the boldness and humility that will touch the hearts of others and advance the Kingdom of God.

In these days, we can no longer afford to compromise what God has promised, nor disobey what He requires. We must yield to the Holy Spirit giving Him unhindered access to our hearts — continually communing with Him and being obedient to Him. If we will hear the voice of God that calls us to ongoing fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and heed the Spirit’s direction in our lives, they will be changed and Jesus’ life will be manifest through them. This needs to become both our immediate and our long-term goal: to see Jesus Christ revealed in His fullness in the Church — and that means in our lives!

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