For a while I worked as a tour guide on Edinburgh’s most famous street, The Royal Mile. The Royal Mile in Edinburgh, as well as being the most historic street in the city is a good candidate at times for being its weirdest. During the Arts Festival in August every shade of weird and not so wonderful seems to appear on its cobbles. One day during the Festival I was walking down past St Giles Cathedral when I suddenly realised I was actually walking in a group of about ten Elvis impersonators. They were pretty easy to identify, quiff hair, sideburns, dark glasses, lurid jump suits and lots “aww huhs” being said. No doubt there was a show somewhere that they were trying to attract the crowds to …. or maybe it was just a gathering of committed fans using the Festival as cover for a mass dress up? …. You never know during the Festival!
As I already mentioned it wasn’t hard to identify this group, collectively their jump suits, hair and faux southern American accents reminded me and everyone else around of Elvis. I was reminded of my encounter with the Edinburgh Elvises (what is the collective name for a group Elvis impersonators?) recently when reading these words from the NT which talking about Jesus says that we as Christians “are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIVUK)
I find what Paul says there in 2 Corinthians incredible and intimidating in just about equal measure. Incredible because God’s word says my life can reflect the image of Jesus and intimidating because God’s Word says my life should reflect the image of Jesus. The Holy Spirit wants to transform my life, so I come reflect the life of Jesus increasingly clearly in my life. He wants to do the same with your life. My question is how? How can my life and yours reflect Jesus’ life? It was pretty obvious how the Elvis impersonators reminded people of Elvis, with the jump suits, quiffs and dark glasses. If I am to remind people of Jesus do I get a pair of Jesus sandals and grow a beard and dress like Jewish carpenter from 2000 years ago? How on earth are our lives to remind people of Jesus? How do our lives become a flesh and blood echo of Jesus?
Paul says that the way we are transformed into the image of Jesus is through the work of Holy Spirit in our lives. In words I hope we are going to become very familiar with Paul says “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 Christlikeness is the fruit of, the result of the work of the Holy Spirit. Christlikeness doesn’t come naturally but supernaturally. Christlikeness, unlike Elvislikeness, doesn’t come from how we dress outwardly but from the transformation of our character inwardly so that we come to reflect Jesus character. When you read the Gospels you realise that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control is like a description of Jesus, it describes how He responded to life and treated people. So we remind people of Jesus when among other things, we treat people with a love that seeks the best for them, when instead of losing our temper we respond to people with patience, when we faithfully keep our promises and when we respond to others with kindness, goodness and gentleness.
So, Christlikeness happens as we, prompted and empowered by the Holy Spirit, come to respond to the people and events we encounter in our everyday life in the way Jesus would, if he was living our life. Over the next few weeks at Westlake we are going to be thinking of the practicalities of what that means and I want to encourage you to get involved in our 9 A DAY Cultivating Christlikeness emphasis.
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