Some who are opposed to my faith casually call out a belief that “As God is, Man can become” as evidence of sacrilege. I’ve heard that ridiculed and flatly rejected by many Christians.
I can’t really blame them. On the surface, when tossed about in a casual phrasing like that, it does sound arrogant, pompous, and absurd. After all, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:3-4). It sounds disrespectful to God to think I could sit equal with Him!
Yet ironically, whether they realize it or not, all followers of Christ already believe the concept is not only possible, but has already been done in at least one instance.
Let me illustrate by reasoning together.
Do you believe that Jesus was born of Mary? Did He poop His diapers? Did He spill His juice bottle? Did He run and stub His toe and cry about it? Did He hit his thumb at least once with the hammer in Joseph’s woodworking shop?
Surely He did. He lived a human experience. He learned His social and academic skills. “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
He grew from a baby into a boy. From a boy He grew to a Man. And from a Man, He became a God. He was the same Being the entire time, but moved through the stages of life in a progression to get to Godhood.
Jesus is our example for living!
Now, let state the obvious: There is a key difference between Him and us. The difference is that Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Because He was without sin, the process worked faster and more perfectly for Him. For our part, each has broken some laws of God and has complicated our lives and progression. All-in-all, however, the same pattern is in place. We grow, develop in spirit, fill our minds and souls with wisdom, repent (our extra step), and enjoy the grace of God upon us.
Just as He outgrew childish things and became a Master over them, so do we. Paul described the process of maturation and self-mastery with these words: “But when that which is perfect [another translation might read ‘whole’ or ‘complete’] is come, then that which is in part [or ‘incomplete’ or ‘partial’] shall be done away” (see 1 Corinthians 13:10). The encounters of human growth and learning didn’t get Him down – He learned to master His mind and responses to them.
As always, Jesus is our example for living.
Believers won’t dispute that He went on to obtain His full reward with God the Father. He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God (see Mark 16:19 among many others). Notice that He didn’t unseat the Father; instead the scriptures always describe taking a place to the right side of Him.
Does it diminish the position or rob God the Father to know that Jesus has also ascended to that title of Godhood? Heaven forbid the thought! Jesus has ascended to His Father, and has done all that must be done to earn the title of a God.
If we are trying to follow Jesus, then next it is our turn. Paul told us, through his letter to the Philippians, to think like Jesus did in this matter. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” (Philippians 2:5-6)
Paul continues in verses 7-9 to tell us more about what Jesus did. He didn’t make Himself popular in the eyes of men. He willingly served others. He remained humble. He remained obedient unto death. It was those qualities of meekness and love that God “highly exalted him.” Those qualities sound very much like the same ones we should emulate.
Because again, Jesus is our example for living.
If I can work on those things, and mastering my emotions, and developing my ability to respond to the Holy Spirit – and if I appeal for and receive sufficient grace and forgiveness from God – then maybe I can get to that point in some eternal day. I don’t mind if I sit on the right, or the left, or in back – if there is a chair nearby the Heavenly Throne, I will be happy and content to take it. I’d even sit on the floor, or stand against the wall.
Listen carefully to this verse in the context of our discussion: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17). When we think of inheritances on earth, they are finite – ‘stuff’ is divided among siblings, so no one can have all. However, God deals in real estate infinite; the power and glory of God can be distributed without dividing, diminishing, or diluting the original. Christ inherited all of the glory, and we are invited to become joint-heirs with Him.
Have I mention that Jesus is our example for living?
Becoming as God is not a reward that man made up. It is clearly offered in the promise that we can each inherit all that the Father has. It is implied as a result of obedience to God’s laws. It is exemplified by the Son of God, who fulfilled all righteousness and showed the way.
If God has held out the goal and offered the reward, then I intend to “come boldly unto the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16) and ask what I need to do to qualify for it.
I’ll start with trying to work on Philippians 2:7-9. If I can get those down, I’ll work on the stuff in the Sermon on the Mount. I’ll seek out the grace of God, and repentance through the mercy and power of Jesus Christ. I’ll make covenants with God to show Him that I am committed to following through on keeping His commandments. I’ll seek and receive the promised blessings and graces for that obedience. There are basic things to work out. I’ve got to temper my own self. I can’t do any of this alone. Especially I cannot make myself ascend to the position of a God. I can’t even ascend on my own to be a member of His heavenly choir – or even His angelic custodial staff. That any of that is to happen, it will be if and when, at some future time, God the Father is ready and willing to bestow such a gift on me.
I’ll always bow the knee in worship of the Savior and the Father in Their rightful places. I do not aspire to unseat them – Lucifer already tried that, and where did it get him? (see Isaiah 14:12-17) They will always hold that place of authority and order over me, for as long as there are eternal worlds without end. “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1 Corinthians 8:6).
And with that context, the idea of becoming like God doesn’t seem so far out there. Jesus was a child of God, and He did it.
And after all, He is my perfect example for living.