Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Ephesians 4:14-15 NLT
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.
In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Colossians 3:9-12 NRS
There can be no question that as Christians, we are expected to be Christ-like. Christian faith is not first of all a set of ideas which we accept. It is first of all a relationship in which Jesus Christ comes, by grace through faith, to inhabit us. So Paul can say, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Our hope to share the glory of God is as a result of Christ’s life lived in us.
But how is that Christlikeness achieved? Is it the work of a moment: “you have stripped off the old self,” or is it only as the end of a long mile of self-denial and the steady putting on of new clothes, “growing in every way more and more like Christ.”? I think the answer to the question is “yes.” That is, both are necessary, and whenever the Church has limited itself to one answer or the other, it has become anemic.
Many today find the Christlike life a struggle, a “will-o-the-wisp” which we must continually try to lay hold of, but never quite achieve. The reason for that is that they are trying to put on new clothes without having been stripped of the old clothes. They have not had that moment, when by faith they have allowed Christ to strip them of their self-esteem (otherwise called pride) and their continual self-focus and have been set free from their blindness to follow him (see Mark 10:46-52).
Then, and then alone, is real growth into Christlikeness possible. The moment only accomplished the stripping off, but it is a moment without which the reclothing is impossible. On the other hand, to be merely stripped is hardly to have reached the goal. It is now possible to become clothed in the character of Christ and that is the work of a lifetime. A moment or a mile? Yes!
The question for us then is: have I ever truly allowed Christ to bring me to that moment, and if I have, how am I allowing him to work it out in my daily walk?