Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren said becoming like Jesus is a gradual process that will take a lifetime, and Christians will only be perfected when they see Christ.
In a daily devotional posted to his website on Tuesday, Warren told readers that learning how to become more and more like Christ is not only a continuing process of spiritual transformation, but one of character as well. Transformation, however, may not happen as expected.
He explains, “Your spiritual transformation in developing the character of Jesus will take the rest of your life, and even then it won’t be completed here on Earth. It will only be finished when you get to Heaven or when Jesus returns.”
In a previous post on his website, Warren stressed that God’s work in the life of a Christian is not instant. “The Holy Spirit will make changes in your life far beyond anything you thought was possible, but they’re not going to happen overnight,” he said.
In his devitional posted January 17, the Saddleback pastor explains that any loose ends or unfinished work regarding a believer’s character will be “wrapped up.” He says that when Christians see Christ, they will become perfect like Him.
Warren points to 1 John 3:2 (NLT, second edition): “We are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.”
The pastor goes on to say that some Christians ignore the fact that God is much more interested in building one’s character than, for instance, their career. “We worry when God seems silent on specific issues such as ‘What career should I choose?'” he says.
Warren adds that God may have several careers in His will for a believer, but what is most important to Him is that whatever a Christian does — they do it in a Christ-like manner (1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Corinthians 16:14; Colossians 3:17, 23).
The Saddleback pastor stresses that character is of utmost importance to God.
“God is far more interested in who you are than in what you do. We are human beings, not human doings. God is much more concerned about your character than your career, because you will take your character into eternity, not your career.”
God wants to make believers like Him before they enter Heaven. “This is our greatest privilege, our immediate responsibility, and our ultimate destiny.”