In a previous article, I discussed the idea of God’s Spirit literally residing in each individual Christian. Today, I’ll look at a related topic: The idea that, as a Christian, I am “in Christ”. Here is part of what the Bible teaches that it means to “be in Christ”.
My life flows from Him, through me
To me, the concept hinges on these beautiful words from Jesus:
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.John 15:4-5
This depicts the close relationship a Christian has with their Savior. He is the Source and Root of everything I do that honors God. (The stuff that dis-honors God is all on me!) The closer I snuggle in to Him, drawing nourishment from Him, the more productive and fruitful I can be.
I have been given a new identity.
That close relationship changes a person from the inside out. The change is not an instant 100% glowing miraculous explosion, though. It starts immediately — sometimes quietly, sometimes pretty dramatically — but it continues to grow throughout a lifetime. From that first moment, though, the new Christian has a new identity as God’s own child.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.2 Corinthians 5:17, See also Romans 6:11
God sees Christ when He looks at me.
It is amazing to think about, but when God looks at me now, He doesn’t see the broken, sinful person. The transaction that occurred when I accepted Jesus was a trade: He took on the sin and guilt, and gave me His righteousness in its place. God is looking through the lens of Jesus, and sees me as being just as perfect and righteous as He is. If that’s not incredible, I don’t know what is!
It’s as if I’m surrounded by Jesus. Nothing can see or reach me without going through Him first (Romans 8:38-39).
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.Colossians 3:1-4, See also Romans 8:1-2, 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 and Romans 6:23
I am joined with others who are also in Him.
I’m not alone in Christ. I have millions of brothers and sisters; we have millions of ancestors; and we will have no telling how many descendants. We are of all shapes, sizes, races, nationalities, languages, cultures, and backgrounds. But what connects us is far more than what makes us different. We are all redeemed, reconciled with God via faith in Jesus, and part of one giant eternal family.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, There is neither slave nor free man, There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:26-28, See also Romans 12:4-5 and Ephesians 2:13-14
I am NOT promised an easy, trouble-free life.
Too many people expect a “health and wealth” salvation. After all, God loves me, and He’s all-powerful. Why shouldn’t I expect Him to surround me with ease and comfort?
Well, for one thing, Jesus — who is our standard — certainly did not have an easy life. He did everything perfectly, and was hated and tortured to death! Of course, He won in the end, but He still warned that His followers will follow not just the victory, but also the struggle that preceded it.
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.John 16:33, See also 2 Timothy 3:12 and 1 Peter 5:10, and Matthew 16:24-25/Mark 8:34-35/Luke 9:23-24
This was true in the first century, when all of the original apostles were martyred for refusing to deny Jesus. It is still true right this minute, where thousands of Christians are targeted simply for their faith. And when Christians are persecuted anywhere — India, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, China, North Korea — that is my family who are hurting. I can’t help but wonder if I would be as strong as they are, if I faced the same challenges to my commitment to Christ.
Note: That makes organizations like Voice of the Martyrs so important. They provide information and a way for Christians to help support those who are suffering for Jesus’ sake.
I am to be like Him.
If I am nurtured by Christ, surrounded by Him, and sharing life with others in Him, it follows that I should begin to resemble Him. No one can work to earn their salvation. But those who have been saved express their love and gratitude by sharing in God’s work so that more people can join us.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.Ephesians 2:8-10, See also Colossians 1:28 and Colossians 2:6
Come join in!
“In Christ” is a wonderful, joyful place to be. It has challenges, but it also has more than enough resources to meet those challenges. It is a place of love and belonging. Come join me here!