Christlike (But Not Christ)

Christlike (But Not Christ) November 24, 2018


Image: Keith Giles

The other day, a friend responded to one of my posts by saying that I reminded him of Christ because of something I did or said. That was a blessing. I honestly do have a very real desire to be like Christ, and so whenever someone says they can see Christ in me, it really means a lot.

However, after that comment, my friend went on to say that I was Christ, which I think I can honestly say is taking it a bit far.

Now, I do believe that we – those who follow Christ – are not only filled with Christ as we abide in him and he in us, but that we are also agents of Christ in the world today. So, in some ways I would affirm the concept that Christians are intended to be the hands of Christ, the feet of Christ, the Body of Christ, and even demonstrate the love of Christ in tangible ways to everyone around us.

All of this is very scriptural. For example:

“So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us…” (2 Cor. 5:20)

And God placed all things under his (Christ’s) feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, [that’s us] the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Eph. 1:22-23)

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27)

But, there is a big difference between “like” Christ, and being “in” Christ, and being “filled” with Christ and “being” Christ.

For example, if someone saw me dunk a basketball over someone’s head with my tongue sticking out, they might say: “Wow! You dunked that ball just like Michael Jordan.”

That would be true. I would have done this “like” Michael Jordan, but to take that further to say that I “am” Michael Jordan would be so very, very false.

In fact, it’s impossible to be “like” someone and also “be” someone. In the example above, if Michael Jordan dunked a basketball over someone’s head, they would not say: “Wow. You’re just like Michael Jordan.”

No, they would say, “Hey, you ARE Michael Jordan!”

Michael Jordan is Michael Jordan. He is not “like” Michael Jordan.

I may be “like” Christ whenever I am abiding in Christ and showing the character of Christ in my words and deeds, but I am not Christ. Christ is Christ.

To put it another way: I may be Christlike, but I will never be Christ.

I’ve used the example of a glass of wine to illustrate this before. A wine glass is created to do one thing: Hold wine. So, whenever a wine glass is filled with wine, it is fulfilling its purpose. I may receive wine from the wineglass and I may even praise the glass for being filled with this wine, but no one would ever confuse the wineglass for the wine.

We are vessels that are intended to be filled with the fullness of Christ. When we are filled with Christ we begin to love and serve and share and forgive like Christ. In those cases, someone can honestly say “I see Christ in you”, in the same way someone might say “I see wine in that glass.” But the wine is not the glass, and the vessel is not the substance it carries.

We are very blessed to be filled with Christ, and it is a great honor to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world around us, but no matter how Christlike we may be, we will never be Christ.

Christ is our source and the One in whom we all live and move and have our being. Christ is the source of all life, and truth. Christ is our connection to the Divine. But we are not Christ.

We are like branches sprouting out of the vine that gives us life, but we are not the vine.

There is only one Christ. Our greatest aim is to be like Christ.

If we were already Christ, there would be no need for transformation.

Let’s remember this.


Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. 

His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

BONUS: Want to unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more? Visit my Patreon page.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Herm

    Keith, I agree with where you have taken this article. As I was reading, although, I realized something that has matured since I first found Jesus in me and I in him. We, as siblings, now worship our Father and our family together in the Spirit and in truth [John 4:23-24]. We both, Jesus and I, want to continue to spread the Word that our Father’s will is the ultimate directing force that guides us to appear as of one another, bound in all love, as we each can bear, by the example of our heavenly Father.

    I do not worship my eldest and most respected brother of God. Oh, but do I honor his seemingly infinite experience and wisdom in truth as I faithfully accept his instruction, yes I do! Jesus, the Christ, is not above, below or beyond me, he is in me and I in him. I am a follower of Jesus while we share the same yoke on an equal plane on earth and in heaven. In his company is how I know that I know virtually nothing compared to what he knows today. He humbly instructs me in what I need and can bear to know as my sibling. He, in no way, lords over me.

    Mankind as come a long way, on their way, to be able to bear, one day, knowing the full parameters of infinity and eternity, just since the advent of witness by the authors of the Bible. Would we have made such progress without the efforts of the Messiah on earth?

    We still try to pull back to controllable and comprehensible tribal concepts that pride themselves in their attempts to trace back their heritage to the very beginning (some tribes manageably certain that 6,000 years is the beginning). DNA and genetics have inspired our scientific seekers to attempt just that. We note how closely our ancestors resemble some of their descendants today. What we can’t bear, as a whole body of mankind, is that none of our members ever were, or will be, identically the same, nor ever will be. We are all different as are all of God different. Those of God are one with and in the Spirit of truth, who is infinite and eternal. Those of Man are fragmented into smaller bodies of responsibility because none have one Father, with no beginning and no end of spirit, to love them into one as they each, differently, can bear, without pause or end. I carry my cross, as a son of Man, differently than Jesus but for the same reason. Even though I have been legally adopted as a child of God, with and in the same Spirit of truth as is my brother Jesus, it is hopeful when my newly born genetics and DNA of life can be traced back to my Father.

  • Obscurely

    I like Martin Luther’s formulation — that in Jesus we become part of “a race of Christs.”

  • Nimblewill

    Christ in us is the hope of glory. I take glory to be the manifestation of God; how He makes himself known. So Christ in us is how God makes himself known.

    Maybe we aren’t Jesus but we are Christ? In some esoteric sense anyway.