It may sound absurd, but it’s true: we often take it upon ourselves to be Christ. Usually, we do so unconsciously, out of a sincere desire to be like Jesus, and not because we consciously wish to supplant Him. So, we try to have endless patience with difficult people; when visitors come to church, we look sincerely into their eyes so they’ll “see Jesus;” we do innumerable other things to make our imitation complete.
John the Baptist can teach us much about all this. When the Jews questioned him about his identity, he said, “I am not the Christ” (John 1:20). There was no confusion in John’s mind about who the Life was (John 1:4). Instead of trying to be something he wasn’t, John waited for the One whom God promised to reveal by His Spirit (John 1:33).
God wishes for us to take the same posture as John. Not that we should stop being patient, scorn newcomers to church, or lack all concern about our behavior. John was a minister of the commandments. Yet being faithful to the law only led him to look for something greater than the law, and for someone greater than himself to fulfill it. Our efforts to behave should lead us to the same place—to Jesus. As the dove reveals Christ, and the Father bears witness to the only One who pleases Him, we will know the difference between ourselves and Jesus with deepening clarity. We will know that “I no longer live bur Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Consequently, we will not trust in ourselves or our own ability to be Christ-like. Instead, we will live by faith in the Son of God who lives in us.