When you are young, people often ask you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Our answers were always filled with the exuberant and innocent dreams of youth. My earliest recollection of answering that question was that I wanted to be Spiderman. That didn’t pan out and I still haven’t had any encounters with a radioactive spider, so like many passing fancies of youth, it’s probably time to let that dream go.
But the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up” is a good one for all would-be disciples of Jesus. And it can only have one answer: “I want to be just like Jesus.” While my childhood dream of being Spiderman had no basis on reality, the aim of living like Jesus is both an attainable and worthwhile pursuit.
Sometimes it seems like the goal of living like Jesus is just as impossible as growing up to be a superhero. It seems so far out of reach. We take two steps forward and about two hundred back. No matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to get it right. Who are we to think we could live like Jesus, anyway? In his letter to the Church in Ephesus, Paul encourages us to grow in every way to be like Christ (Ephesians 4:15). I don’t believe God’s Word commands us to do impossible things. Difficult, perhaps, but not impossible.
Paul also tells us to imitate him, just as he imitates Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). This is the goal. As followers of Jesus, we should always be maturing until the day we look and live just like Jesus. It’s not enough to say you love Him. We’ve got to live as He did, pursuing a mission to love and share the good news of God’s Kingdom with every person we encounter. We’ve got to put away our love for the things of this world and allow ourselves to be consumed with His love and His will.
If we are speaking truthfully when we say we love Jesus, we can no longer love the things of this world (I John 2:15). Our affections will be only for Him. Our aspirations will no longer be for wealth, comfort, security, or any achievement in this world. Instead, our only aspiration will be to look like Jesus. When others look at our lives, we want them to see only Him. As long as we desire to be known for anything other than loving Jesus, we have not yet understood what it means to surrender our lives to Him.
We all begin as babies in both the physical and spiritual worlds. The question we all must answer is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” If we are a disciple of Jesus, our only answer will be “We want to be like Jesus.” Any other desire is not from God and is from the world (I John 2:16). We can be like Jesus. He made it possible when He laid down His life for us. It comes down to what we desire more: Jesus, or the pleasures of this world. Only one will lead to lasting satisfaction. Only one will lead to life. You can try to become what the world says you should be, but that road only leads to death. Pursue Jesus. Surrender every dream and ambition to Him. Then you will find life, and life greater than you could ever imagine (John 10:9-10).