First and foremost, let us get this fact out of the way, which is, neither you nor I are Jesus. Neither you nor I ever will become Jesus.
If either you or I conceivably can become Jesus, we arrive at the contradiction that Jesus is not unique, is not the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), meaning we might as well start chanting “uumm” and forget all about the Bible.
Clearly, chanting of uumm at our own timing and discretion is much easier than having to remember to pray at specific times five times a day. If I have to throw the Bible out, I might as well go for the easiest path to God, the path that does not require giving of monies (offering) to anyone else as demonstration of piety; that path I think is, ‘discretionary chanting of uumm and meditation.’
If we believe in Jesus Christ, the spiritually correct view of ourselves is, we are adopted by God as (younger) brothers to Jesus Christ, yet with the caveat that all younger brothers are created equal, are equal in standing before God.
The spiritual fact that all younger brothers are equal before God, Father of Jesus Christ, is evident in the following words by Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1:1–2 (clarifications in brackets mine in spirit of an amplified reading of the Bible).
“Simeon Peter, a servant (minister, emissary, or ambassador — the word servant is ancient terminology, not derogatory) and apostle (proclaimer, professor) of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
If the people to whom Apostle Peter writes, who themselves are not apostles of Jesus Christ have attained to a faith of equal standing with his, and with those of other apostles, clearly there are not any hierarchies of spirituality in context of faith in Jesus Christ.
Clearly, all who profess faith in Jesus Christ are equal in spiritual opportunity before Him and His Father.
While we are unable to become Jesus, we are called to become like Him in character, essence, and devotion to good works. Good works here refer not just to acts of love and kindness, but professions within which we are known for our integrity, hard work, professionalism, and innovation at making things better.
The Scriptural Evidence?
For those whom He foreknew (those whom God recognized in His Spirit as responding positively to His Love) He predestined (prepared opportunities and challenges for that would enable them) to be conformed (shaped) to the image (character, essence, and devotion to good works) of His Son, in order that He (Jesus) might be the first-born among many brethren (Romans 8:29).
For we are God’s workmanship (God’s new creation), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Jesus wants you to become like Him in character, essence, and good works.
For achievement of this objective, The Father has prepared for you opportunities and challenges that, conditional on your godly responses, help you become like Jesus Christ.
While all who have faith in Jesus Christ are equal in standing (spiritual opportunity) before Him and His Father, that is, are treated equally because there is not any partiality in The Father (Romans 2:11), the extent to which all become like Jesus is not a matter of magic, is not dependent on God, is dependent on genuineness of faith, willingness to exert effort, and amount of effort applied towards knowledge of Jesus and His Father. In essence, is dependent on the extent to which individual responses to opportunities and challenges of life are godly.
Many people stumble with respect to arrival at faith in Jesus Christ because they do not realize that expression of faith (interest in Jesus Christ) does not imply arrival at faith (commitment to demonstration of godly responses to opportunities and challenges).
While I taught in College, it was my right as a College Professor to request sample copies of reference texts for consideration as required texts for my students. Once I received a reference text, I would peruse the text for arrival at a decision as to whether or not I would adopt the text. Perusing a text is important because I have to develop the course material in reference to that specific text.
By requesting a particular textbook, I express faith (interest) in a reference text. I, however, sometimes did not adopt (demonstrate faith in) a reference text in which I initially had expressed some interest. If I adopted a reference text, however, I had to go over some of the text, and solve some sample problems so I have some confidence in solutions provided by the author(s), meaning I actively engage with the text. The engagement with the chosen text is evidence of the faith that the reference text is adequate to my requirements. I adopt by faith because I base the decision to adopt on some general sense of the text, not on a reading of the entire text — an objective that cannot be deemed to be wise, for part of what makes a person an expert on a subject is an informed general sense of his or her subject. We have then that it is unambiguously true that expression of faith (expression of interest) in a thing or person is not tantamount to arrival at faith.
Expression of faith is statement of desire for arrival at faith. Only those who practice faith have faith, only those who demonstrate faith arrive at (have) faith.
With expression of faith mistaken for arrival at faith, many erroneously think that having expressed faith in Jesus Christ, all then is gravy. Within context of this attitude, having expressed (the desire for) faith, The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are so overjoyed that from that point onward, they do all of the spiritual work, with outcome believing in Jesus Christ works like magic.
Consider, however, the following words by Jesus Christ in John 8:31–32.
If you continue in (practice) my word (faith), you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
In the words above, Jesus makes clear that the process of becoming like Him, the process of achieving freedom from entanglements of life, the process that enables freedom from spiritual chains of passions and fears requires arrival at knowledge of truth. Jesus declares that regardless of the fact that the Holy Spirit is available to help people become like Him, that if people who express faith in Him do not expend effort towards acquiring knowledge of truth, if they do not demonstrate faith via expending of effort for arrival at knowledge of truth, they are unable to become truly spiritually free.
A person demonstrates faith in Jesus Christ via expending of effort towards arrival at knowledge of truth.
Knowledge of truth is arrived at in context of practicing of the words of Jesus, meaning only those who expend effort towards becoming like Jesus arrive at true spiritual freedom.
What then does Jesus require for people ‘to practice’ if they are to become His disciples, if they are to arrive at knowledge of truth?
In the words of Jesus Christ Himself?
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34–35).
Consider how straightforward it is to demonstrate that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus does not demand knowledge of some convoluted doctrines, or attendance at any sacraments or religious services. If you are to qualify to be His disciple, He does not demand that you understand what arguably are the three most difficult to understand Books of the Bible, namely the Books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation.
Jesus states unequivocally that if you are to be regarded by Him as a disciple, all He asks is that you believe in Him and love your neighbor as He has loved you. This requirement from Jesus just as easily can be satisfied by a High School dropout, or a Nobel Laureate in Physics.
Religion complicates the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you truly seek to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, all He asks are two things: Belief that He is who He says He is (the only begotten Son of God), and love for others.
Clearly, in the asking that you believe that He is the only begotten Son of God, that He is Savior and Lord, Jesus is asking for total buy-in. Buy-ins of course always cost something. Whenever someone asks you for a buy-in, and states that there are not any costs involved, typically this is evidence for build up of a scam.
But what exactly does this buy-in cost you in real terms?
Well, for evidence that you believe He is who He says He is, Jesus demands that you love others, and not allow yourself to be induced into hatred for anyone.
But is there a better aspiration of life than this buy-in demanded by Jesus Christ?
If we are not cynical about life and sincerity of others, could we conceivably set a lower standard for ordering of our lives? If to love and be loved is one of the highest aspirations of life, there does not exist any spiritual or intellectual cost to believing that Jesus is Lord and Savior. All of the cost involved in believing that Jesus is Lord and Savior turns out to be no more than effort cost, that is, effort cost from rein in of the self for perseverance in love, and effort cost from warding off of hatred for others.
In reality, there does not exist any intellectual or spiritual cost to believing that Jesus is Lord and Savior.
All of the buy-in costs are effort costs that relate to one of the most beautiful aspirations of life, which is to be known and fully loved, and to have opportunity to fully know and love others.
Becoming like Jesus is not magic because it requires effort at loving, effort at warding off the temptation to hate others, and effort at acquisition of the truth.
Efforts at loving, efforts at warding off of temptation to hate, and efforts at acquiring truth all are required in context of daily affairs of life.
The Holy Spirit is available to help, but by principles set in place by God — principles that ought to delight the heart because they demonstrate that The Father has high regard for man — only your efforts can be magnified by the Holy Spirit.
If a person expresses faith in Jesus Christ, but does not exercise any efforts in that respect, there is nothing provided that the Holy Spirit can multiply or magnify.
In order for Jesus to feed 5,000 men, someone still had to have 5 Loaves and 2 Fishes.
In life, typically it takes 17 years at the very least to acquire Baccalaureate level certification in any profession. If we seek highest level of certification in any discipline, we spend at the very least an additional 6 years for arrival at PhD level certification.
Our Lord Jesus Christ declares that mastery of discipleship for arrival at true spiritual freedom requires effort, requires the same sort of dedication and perseverance that produces mastery of professional disciplines.
If we do not realize the promise of spiritual freedom that is promised in Jesus Christ, we do well first and foremost to check our very own efforts; becoming like Jesus Christ is not magic, is outcome of willingness, effort, dedication, and perseverance.
If you will pay the price, I am confident that you will arrive at the promise of spiritual freedom and rest personified in Jesus Christ.