It’s a funny question, when you think about it. The answer is an obvious, “YES!” He was holy; we want to be holy. He was kind; we want to be kind. He was forgiving; we want to be forgiving. And when we start to peel back the layers of just what we mean by the phrase “be like Jesus,” almost all of it has to do with morality. Jesus’ life consisted of much more than mere morality.
Unfortunately, in reading the gospels, I hate to admit it; I really don’t want to be like Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong, I have the desire to be like Jesus…in some ways. But, there’s a whole mountain of things that He does, that I don’t really want to do. And then, there’s a whole list of other things that He does that we barely even talk about.
But, there a couple of things in particular that Jesus did to which many of us are oblivious. Today, I’ll share one.
Littered throughout the gospels are phrases like “and Jesus withdrew to a lonely place,” or “and Jesus went away to a secluded place and prayed” etc. There was a constant rhythm in Jesus’ life to be in public, be with people, serve, proclaim, and minister, and then withdraw for lengthy periods of time.
This is diametrically opposed to the rat-race life that we live in. If someone were to have given you Jesus’ mission – you have 3 years to establish God’s Kingdom – I doubt most of us would even sleep. But Jesus withdraws, for up to 40 days at one point. He onlyl had 1,095 days to work with, and he used 40 of them fasting and praying…alone!
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Jesus’ life was marked by a certain cadence of withdrawal. For efficiency’s sake, we have whittled down Jesus’ cadence of withdrawal to one 15-30 minute segment a couple of times a week that we call “quiet time.” Most of this time is dedicated to us deciding where in the Bible we want to read today, checking facebook, reading a verse, checking Instagram, then praying for the same 6 prayer requests we prayed for yesterday.
The fact that we don’t experience a profound connection with God, the way Jesus did, should be no surprise. Jesus intentionally stepped away, for extended periods of time, from the normal routines, pressures, and demands of everyday life…to be alone.
I mean, I want to do that, but I don’t want to do that. I want to be with people. I want to get things done. I want to be productive; and there is little room for solitude in our current definition of productivity.
The big question that I continue to face is this: where can I carve out large chunks of time to go away to a secluded place and be with God?
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If I can’t, or if I refuse, then I simply don’t really want to be like Jesus. Something else is more important. Something else appears to demand my time MORE than being like Jesus.
And, if I’m brutally honest, solitude is a matter of faith. I am free to step away from demands, routines, and pressures when I trust that God is in control. I cannot step away from them when I believe that I am necessary for the proper outcome. To tell the truth, I don’t step away in solitude because I am convinced that if I do, something will fall apart. My faith in God is so small, and my faith in myself is so big that I perceive my daily involvement in the rat race to be necessary.
For me, all of this begs the question; do I really want to be like Jesus?