A stained glass window of Jesus on the cross

What would we be like if we were like Jesus

The Glorious Pursuit: embracing the virtues of Christ by Gary L. Thomas (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1998)

What we do versus who we are

A few decades ago I regularly heard a teacher who asked, “What have you done for Jesus today?” He wanted me to look at what I did and do more for Jesus. Always, do more.

About the same time, I knew another teacher who would say, usually more calmly, that God was more interested in who we are than what we do.

There were countless sermons, books and articles debating this point and, to some degree, they continue.

However, after some reflection, most people quickly realize that this is an unnecessary debate. God is interested in both who we are and what we do.

Hypocrisy

God is grieved by both brands of hypocrisy.

There are those who so focus on the interior life that they do little or nothing. They are consumed by a higher perfection that has no impact on the lives of others.

The active church member who loves the attention that their activity brings but inside their soul is a word of lusts, hates and envies also grieves God.

I have written earlier on how our “Come and See” must match our “Go and Tell”.

Virtues and ethics

For about fifteen years I taught ethics to those who were in seminary to prepare for various ministries in the Christian community.

We talked about difficult ethical decisions. We talked about professional ethics, the problems that often come up in churches. We also talked about virtues, about how to train the soul so that we make better choices more easily. We talked about how to seek a cleanness of the soul that serves as a solid base for living in a fallen world and serving in churches made up of imperfect people … like us.

What are the virtues that Jesus exemplified?

Gary Thomas’ excellent book is about Jesus, about how he thought, about the virtues that he exemplified. In the opening section he reminds us that life on earth is a time of growth and change. It is a time of living in community and growing toward Christlikeness with others on the same path. We can choose to live on this path or live lives of wasted opportunities.

The main section of the book has chapters on virtues that Thomas sees in Jesus’ life. Some you would easily agree with and some may surprise you but all of the chapters make their case for inclusion and all are well-written exhortations to godly living.

The chapters cover:
Humility
Surrender
Detachment
Love
Chastity
Generosity
Vigilance
Patience
Discernment
Thankfulness
Gentleness
Fortitude
Obedience
Penitence

In a final chapter, Thomas reminds us that the more we practice these virtues the more we will look like Christ to the world.

Are you surprised by any of the virtues on this list?

Which of these virtues can others see in your life?

Which ones are you still working on?

2 thoughts on “What would we be like if we were like Jesus”

  1. “We also talked about virtues, about how to train the soul so that we make better choices more easily.” I tend to think of virtues as an end in themselves, but you’re arguing they’re more than that. I think you’re right but I have to figure out how to change my thinking. It’s deeply tied to the desire to arrive, to be perfect, to be safe. So If I practice all the virtues perfectly I’ll be okay…but that makes virtues an idol. I’m going to need to chew on this for a while.

    I’m surprised to see discernment on the list. I’m discerning when it comes to truth (what does the Bible mean? are those statistics accurate? etc.) but not so much when dealing with people (people can lie to me about their own actions and I can’t really tell). What kind of discernment is Thomas talking about here?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *