“How Christ like can we become?” This was the question posed to a group of us attending a program being lead by an Orthodox Christian Priest.
Before even being able to seriously entertain the question, I ran—SMACK—right into issues within my own theological baggage compartment. Who knew my luggage car had become so overfull? My train of thought ran along the lines of, “How dare he even entertain the idea that any of us could ever attempt to become perfected—as Jesus was.”
I had been taught to revere Jesus and his work from a formal distance, walking a full three spare feet behind him in deference to his status. Jesus was someone of mythic proportions, an extraordinary god-human-being who walked an earth in and of the past. In my mind, I always maintained a respectful distance, as one would grant royalty, from the person of Jesus, his life and his ministry. Jesus had become Other. I had to open the door on my mind’s rolling train to boot some ancient luggage from the car, so that I could even think about the proposed question.
What would it mean to become Christ like? In truth, it would mean embracing some of the East’s most cherished spiritual principles. Non-attachment: Drop your nets, follow me. Take my cloak, for I have two, and you have none. Non-harming: What you do to the least of these, you do to me. Or, appropriate placement of one’s vital energy: Leave the kitchen, listen to me. Do not speak, until the words are given to you. Selfless service: Heal the sick. Feed the hungry. And, ultimately, surrender to a higher power (dedicating the merit—of one’s life): If required, release the cup of poison, and take the cross. This is living of a different order.