How can I become more Christlike? What does it really mean to become like Christ?
When you think of “becoming like Christ” what comes to your mind? Ask your family or class this and see what kind of answers are given first – this will show their basic understanding of what “Christlike” means. I suspect that many may say some things like: “being nice to others”, “serving others”, “keeping the commandments”, etc.. Which are all wonderful, true and profound answers, but our job is to help them dig deeper so their minds and hearts are opened so they can really become like Him.
I imagine if we were to ask Peter or John, or any of the Apostles that served with him what it means to be “Christlike” they could tell us some amazing stories. Likewise the Nephites in 3 Nephi would do the same. “Be nice to others” may turn into something more like: “He saw the potential in others and did all he could to save them and help them become perfected.” Or “serve others” may be something like: “he was able to discern the true needs of others and gave them what they needed even if it was inconvenient.“ And “keep the commandments” may be more like “he studied and cherished God’s laws because he knew that was where joy, strength and power were.”
I believe the more we seriously study and seek to know Christ and his character, “Christlike” will take on meanings deeper and more profound than we have yet considered, which I suppose is part of life’s journey.
Attributes of Christ
In the Come Follow Me Curriculum it suggests that you:” Share with the young women the Christlike attributes listed in chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel, “How Do I Develop Christlike Attributes?” Ask the young women to select one of these attributes that they would like to develop. Give them time in class to learn about the attribute they chose, following the suggestions under the heading “Developing Christlike Attributes” on pages 122–23.”
I looked up that chapter and it is excellent and worth a serious study. Here are a list of those attributes that are suggested in that chapter:
- Charity and Love
I would have everyone write those down and then discuss what those attributes would look like in Christ. I may even have pictures of Him to display from various time periods of his life as well as the resurrection, when He appeared to the Nephites and to Joseph Smith. They each evoke different emotions and Christlike attributes. As you discuss them, if the class gets stuck I would ask something like, “what would Peter say?”. I like that question because it helps you step back and imagine what others witnessed in him. For example, Peter may say about Charity that Christ would walk from Galilee to Jerusalem and then immediately serve people even if he was really tired from the journey. That is a principle that we could all live a little better.
As a teacher or a parent, I would sit down and consider each of these attributes and study them enough so I could seek to bring them alive for my loved ones. It could be really easy to list them off and miss the power in them and what it means to be Christlike in that attribute. I would also focus on how each person is already becoming Christlike and how they are well on their journey already. Sometimes we focus on where we can improve and forget to cheer each other on for what we have already accomplished. Satan wants us to believe we aren’t capable of becoming like Christ, so I think it is important to remind each other that we are.
Of all the attributes listed above, one attribute that I would like to mention is that of “HOPE”. I think that may be the one the youth would need help understanding, and I have a little story that I will never forget that gave me great insight into this.
In seminary we had some tests that we gave to our kids a couple of times of year that come from the main seminary offices at church headquarters. They are anonymous and mostly multiple choice tests and after the kids complete them we would send them to church headquarters where they will score them and then send our results for the entire school and then also individual classes. The tests were mostly about basic doctrines and we could see where the kids were strong and where we needed to focus some teaching. There was also a section about beliefs where the youth could rank themselves on where they felt they personally were in that belief.
One night I was at a get-together with the seminary and institute teachers in my area and one of the main seminary guys from headquarters was speaking to us. He mentioned this test and an interesting experience they had with one particular question. I don’t remember the question exactly but it was something like “I believe the Holy Ghost speaks to me”. They were surprised because the results on this question were surprisingly low while other questions about faith and beliefs were high. So, as an experiment, they changed the question to “I believe the Holy Ghost speaks to people”. (Now I may be entirely off on the subject of the question, but what I do remember is that the question went from personal to general). And what happened? The results shot right up.
I will never forget what he said after he told us about the change in questions. He said: “They had faith and believed it happened to others, but they didn’t have HOPE that they were experiencing it too.” So I suppose they had hope for others, but not themselves. That really struck me and I realized that is often a missing link. HOPE is a powerful principle that helps us hold onto promises and blessings that we may not have full evidences of yet in our life. For example, the youth who had HOPE may have responded to that question in a way like: I know I have the gift of the Holy Ghost and therefore He must be guiding me constantly, but I just don’t know how to recognize it easily. So they would express FAITH that the Holy Ghost is able to speak to us, and HOPE that he is speaking to them.
Faith and hope and intricately tied together, and then charity closely follows. If I have FAITH in God, and then HOPE that you and I can receive His promises, then I can love you as the Lord loves you (CHARITY). My words, actions, advice and counsel will be filled with the HOPE I have.
I will end with this amazing quote by President George Q. Cannon. He is speaking specifically about gifts of the Spirit, but these can go hand in hand. Pay particular attention to his analogue about the door opening and closing. I read this years and years ago and this has stuck in my mind ever since.
“How many of you … are seeking for these gifts that God has promised to bestow? How many of you, when you bow before your Heavenly Father in your family circle or in your secret places contend for these gifts to be bestowed upon you? How many of you ask the Father, in the name of Jesus, to manifest Himself to you through these powers and these gifts? Or do you go along day by day like a door turning on its hinges, without having any feeling upon the subject, without exercising any faith whatever; content to be baptized and be members of the Church, and to rest there, thinking that your salvation is secure because you have done this? …
“… If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections. If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind. Am I an envious man? It is my duty to seek for charity, which envieth not. So with all the gifts of the Gospel. They are intended for this purpose. No man ought to say, ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’ He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them. If a man lack wisdom, it is his duty to ask God for wisdom. The same with everything else. That is the design of God concerning His Church. He wants His Saints to be perfected in the truth. For this purpose He gives these gifts, and bestows them upon those who seek after them, in order that they may be a perfect people upon the face of the earth, notwithstanding their many weaknesses, because God has promised to give the gifts that are necessary for their perfection.” (President George Q. Cannon, In Millennial Star, Apr. 1894, pp. 260–61.)
Here is our teaching package for this lesson:
One specifically useful thing it has is a printable page of the formula suggested in Preach My Gospel, where you can then plug in the attribute you want to study.
You can find this package HERE.
This is also available in our October Combo package with all 5 lessons found HERE.