Todd Forrest has lived his whole life in ministry, growing up as a pastor’s and missionary’s son. He has been in active ministry since 1990, and continues to pastor today. He is a board member of Children of Promise International, caring for orphans in 12 countries. He and his wife, Debbie, have three children, two of which are GCU students.
Faculty, College of Theology
When we think of what the stereotypical Christian should look like, we probably all can think of what that should be. Maybe when we ponder this, we end up focusing more on what that person should NOT be.
A follower of Christ is not merely a good person; we are to be like Jesus. Now, a quick reflection of our lives reveals that there is no one JUST like Jesus. However, there is an intentional life trajectory toward character transformation, starting with the decision of the mind, the commitment of heart and revealing its resolve in the motivations and actions in life.
There are many enemies warring against this decision in life. It may be fear, shame, addictions, poor influences or an unsettled resolve to commit. The Apostle Paul encouraged this daily trajectory toward being more like Jesus when he stated, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14).
Our resolutions to follow this “Jesus-like” trajectory begins to seep into every facet of our lives. It affects our disciplines and makes GCU chapel, daily prayer and Bible reading new, transforming habits. Our behavior patterns, thought patterns, attitudes and emotions all become affected by the loving surgical hand of Christ Jesus as we undergo the lifelong procedure of cutting away the destructive decisions and patterns of this world. It is not a secret our world is a hurtful and broken place. Each of us are uniquely affected by specific attachments that constantly hinder our trajectory toward Jesus. But there is hope for us all!
This hope comes from two directions. Though I cannot rescue myself from my addictive attachment to the world, I do make the decision to change. Romans 12:2 states, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The second, and most important source of transformation on our trajectory toward Christlikeness is the work He does in us beyond where we would be able. Ephesians 2:8, 9 provides powerful personal hope because in my personal brokenness I am assured, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Maybe Max Lucado stated it best in his book, “Just Like Jesus,” when he expressed, “God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.”
Your starting point in following Jesus is not as important as the direction in which you are going. Stay on the path and trust Jesus for today.
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