Categories
Uncategorized

Our Identity: With/In

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 1 John 4:15

As we explore “our identity in Christ” and what it means for us as believers, I can think of nothing more definitive than this: Christ is our life. This is a mysterious truth so vital that Paul consistently taught it to the early churches, writing to the Colossians, “[Christ] is your life,”1 and scribing to the Galatians, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”2 These bold truth claims jolt us like smelling salts from stupor to clarity, yet how can it be that Christ is my life? Prepositions show relationship, so let’s consider two of them: with and in.

With Christ. Paul assured the Philippians that we are “united with Christ,”3 and to the Corinthian church he wrote, “the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him4 (some theologians call this, “the mystic union”). Being one spirit with Christ, we can boldly proclaim with Paul, “If we have been united with [Christ] in a death like his [through baptism], we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”5 Through faith, we are spiritually one with Him who will never die again.

In Christ. Yet our relationship with Christ is still more profound: we live in Jesus, and He lives in us. Jesus passionately interceded to His Father on behalf of all who would believe in Him, including us today, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me. . . . I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”6 This is identity; this is how we, like Paul, can know and say Christ is my life and He lives in me.

So, now what? We do well to receive, contemplate and savor what Christ has done for us and who we are in Him, yet we also live this day as new people with practical purpose and eternal effectiveness. Jesus told His followers, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit. . . . By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”7 So we go in full confidence of who we are, offering ourselves to Him who lives in us and loves through us. There will be fruit.

Father, thank You for sending us Your Son and giving us new life in Him. Flow through us, that our lives would bring healing to others and glory to You. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Colossians 3:4, emphasis added
2 Galatians 2:20, emphasis added
3 Philippians 2:1, emphasis added
4 1 Corinthians 6:17, emphasis added
5 Romans 6:4-5, emphasis added
6 John 17:22, 26, emphasis added
7 John 15:5, 8 ESV, emphasis added

Categories
Uncategorized

Whose World Is This, Anyway?

As a young boy, I would join other Sunday School children in singing, “This Is My Father’s World,” and though I’d been taught God was to us a heavenly Father, for all the world as we sang those lyrics I’d also think of my dad in the exaggerated dimensions that come naturally to five-year-olds. This was my Father’s world, and in a sense, it was my father’s world as well; at least he was to me the strongest part of it. And now, given the events in the U.S. over the past several days—deception and dissension, malfeasance and mistrust, retribution and revenge—I return to my childhood wonder and consider again, Whose world is this, anyway?

In dire times like these, we cry out from deep within to the God we know is greater than us. Humankind spins out of control—our own doing—and we beg our Maker to come and fix our world for us, much as we might call a contractor to hasten to our home to keep a problem from becoming a disaster or a disaster from resulting in destruction. Only God is wise, powerful and good enough to remedy what our worldly self-will has wrought, and somehow we all know this. How many times have we beseeched Him, and how many times has He rescued us when only He could do so?

In all of this, we easily lose sight of one immovable premise: This is our Father’s world. Wrote David, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.”1 God created everything through His pre-incarnate Son: “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”2 And God reigns over that which He owns: “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”3 In short, God owns the place, and He cares for it infinitely more than we do.

Then it is God who calls us to avail ourselves to Him, so that He would work His will in His world through us. We cry out to Him, yes, for He is wisdom amid our folly and His strength overpowers our own, but may we also hear Him and give ourselves entirely to Him today, for as the world pleads for help, God responds through us, His people.

“As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”4—Jesus the Son, to God the Father

Father, this is Your world, not ours; You love it more than we do. Forgive us our sins, overcome our fear, and establish us in Your path. Strengthen us to do as You call us to do here among the people You love. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Psalm 24:1-2
2 John 1:3
3 1 Chronicles 29:11
4 John 17:18

Categories
Uncategorized

Our Identity: We Are Forever Alive

“Our identity in Christ”—is it just me, or do you also hear and perhaps even utter these words with increasing frequency? We know our existence as believers in Christ to be a good thing, though surely our notions of this phrase vary widely among us. Yet it is vital that we understand our selfhood in Christ, for truth sets us free,1 as Jesus said, and who we are informs how we live. Over the next few weeks, then, let’s take time to understand and embrace our identity in Christ.

The Bible teaches us that, ever since “the fall” in Eden, sin has permeated the human condition and we are born separated from Christ2 and from the life of God.3 Yet all who place their trust in Jesus go through profound change, ultimately a complete change, for in fact we are made new. In a natural sense, we are no different than before we believed—we live and breathe; we grow, then fade—but inwardly we spring from death to life, for as Jesus said, whoever believes in Him “shall not perish but have eternal life.”4 How does this happen? In Christ is life itself,5 and when we entrust our fleeting existence to His imperishable one, “the Spirit gives birth to [our] spirit”6—His life bears life in us. Moreover, “God’s seed remains in” all who are thus born of God,7 sustaining us forever. Knowing this, we can confess with Paul, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”8

Our identity is in Christ, and we are forever alive. This is who we are, and we must understand this. For we no longer have reason to fear death, rather we have every reason not to. We can cease our striving to close the gap between ourselves and God, for we are separated from Him no longer. We have good news for those without hope, and also for those with false hope, for we have been “born into a living hope,”9 and so may they.

Father, how loving You are that you would send Your Son to pay for our sins. How wise You are to breathe into us the life of Him who will never die. How kind You are to free us from fear and deliver us from death. Thank You. Use us. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 John 8:32
2 Ephesians 2:12
3 Ephesians 4:18
4 John 3:16
5 John 1:4
6 John 3:6 ESV
7 1 John 3:9 ESV
8 Galatians 2:20 AMP
9 1 Peter 1:4