“I Would Be Like Jesus”

“We…are changed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18)

     INTRO.: A song which points out how we are changed into the same image from glory to glory is “I Would Be Like Jesus.” The text was written by James Rowe (1865-1933). A prolific author of gospel song texts, he produced several songs which have appeared in our books, including “After the Shadows,” “God Holds the Future in His Hands,” “He’s My King,” “Home of the Soul,” “I Choose Jesus,” “I Have Been Redeemed,” “I Walk with the King,” “Just Outside the Door,” “Looking to Thee,” “O Come to the Savior,” “Praise the King,” “Ring Out the Message,” “The Friend Divine,” “What Is He Worth to Your Soul?”, “Wonderful City,” “Wonderful Jesus,” “Won’t It Be Wonderful There,” “You Never Mentioned Him to Me,” and perhaps his best known, “Love Lifted Me.” The tune (Spring Hill, Winona Lake, or Be Like Jesus) for “I Would Be Like Jesus” was composed by Bentley DeForest Ackley (1872-1958). Some of his other tunes that have appeared in our books include those for “Light of the Cross,” “What Shall It Be?”, “Sunrise,” “Somebody Else Needs a Blessing,” “I Walk with the King,” and “Just Outside the Door.” Dated 1911, “I Would Be Like Jesus” was first published in the 1912 book Make Christ King edited by William E. Biederwolf and Edwin O. Excell. Later the copyright was purchased by Hope Publishing Co., but the renewal in 1940 was controlled by the Rodeheaver Co. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the original 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1, though not in the 1925 combined edition), and with the chorus only in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson. Today the entire song may be found in the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum.

     The song suggests that the way God wants us to live so that we can please Him is to be like Jesus.

I. Stanza 1 tells us that being like Jesus helps us to reject earthly pleasures
“Earthly pleasures vainly call me, I would be like Jesus;
Nothing worldly shall enthrall me, I would be like Jesus.”
 A. As long as we are alive, earthly pleasures will call us: Tit. 3:3
 B. However, if it is our desire to be like Jesus, that call will be in vain as it was with Moses: Heb. 11:25
 C. While we are still subject to temptation, we must determine that nothing worldly shall enthrall us because we do not love the world: 1 Jn. 2:15-17

II. Stanza 2 tells us that being like Jesus breaks every fetter
“He has broken every fetter, I would be like Jesus,
That my soul may serve Him better, I would be like Jesus.”
 A. A fetter is a chain, and here it refers to the chain that binds us to sin, but Jesus has set us free from sin: Rom. 6:17-18
 B. His aim is to save the soul which is each person’s most precious possession: Matt. 16:26
 C. Those who have thus been freed from sin and saved can serve God: 2 Tim. 1:3

III. Stanza 3 tells us that being like Jesus will take us from earth to glory
“All the way from earth to glory, I would be like Jesus;
Telling o’er and o’er the story, I would be like Jesus.”
 A. Those who are Christians, having been saved from sin, are travelling a strait and narrow way: Matt. 7:13-14
 B. This pathway, though often involving suffering, takes us from earth to glory: Rom 8:18
 C. But while we are on this pathway, we need to be like Jesus in telling the story to others, as did the early Christians: Lk. 19:10, Acts 8:4

IV. Stanza 4 tells us that being like Jesus will bring us joy in heaven
“That in heaven He may meet me, I would be like Jesus;
That His words ‘Well done’ may greet me, I would be like Jesus.”
 A. The hope of the Christian is in heaven: Col. 1:5
 B. What makes this hope grand is that we both desire and can expect that there Jesus will meet us and we shall see Him as He is: 1 Jn. 3:1-3
 C. Thus, we look forward to His words “Well done”: Matt. 25:21

     CONCL.: The chorus encourages us to be like Jesus in everything that we do.
“Be like Jesus, this my song, In the home and in the throng;
Be like Jesus, all day long! I would be like Jesus.”
I think that it is very unfortunate that this song has not been in more of our books. Even when I first saw just the chorus in Great Songs No. 2 I thought that it expressed a good idea, and then when I later saw the entire song I was overjoyed with the positive encouragement that it gives. I need to be reminded from time to time that if I intend to be with the Lord in heaven, then my goal here upon this earth must be that “I Would Be Like Jesus.”


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