Monday, November 18, 2013

In Christ

Undoubtedly, the most influential tenet of the faith that I have ever learned was my newfound identity in Christ. These last two words are critical: IN CHRIST. Sadly, I never knew this when I first became a Christian.

Why do so many of us miss these two words?

Fortunately, I have heard more and more sermons addressing and proclaiming this fact. We need more Christians living with the certainty of their identity.

When it comes to the Christian journey, the "first step" of our faith must be more than just a sentimental memory. I love that old proverb that says a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. It's almost cliché now, but it rings true regardless. The point I draw from it is that no matter how great the task, it must begin somewhere.

Understanding our identity in Christ should be the “first step” of the Christian faith. Too many of us miss it when we enter the body of Christ. Discussions about divine election, predestination, the Calvinism/Arminianism debate, and how one actually “gets saved” aside, it is clear that living in Christ’s Kingdom requires active action on our part (Note the active responses required: Mark 10:21; John 10:27; 14:15). If we would solidify this one tenet at the outset, our Christian growth would be filled with less frustration. 

I know firsthand what it is like to fail to grasp this and live life frustrated. In the face of my worst habitual sin, my inability to overcome it made me a walking hell; I was continually convicted of my sin, yet chained by remorse. The tension between sin and guilt were debilitating because it prevented me from any forward motion. The problem was myself. I would be so bent on ridding myself of sin that all I could do was focus on myself. I vowed to change my ways only to mess up again and then sulk in guilt, which only made me more selfish because, obviously, guilt only turns the focus onto oneself.

A wise man told me to "get over myself" and understand that I was no longer in sin because I was IN CHRIST. Only then did I began to see the freedom that Jesus offers. The work of our Savior solidified our identity so that we have no need to strive for peace with our own devices. We have been made into new people. Guilt and the preoccupation with “sin management” (to quote John Eldredge’s phrase) prevents us from growing up in our Christian identities. 

Growth, though, doesn't come without decisions and discipline. Discipline often gets misconstrued as legalism, but it is far from it. Being “in Christ” is what balances the tension between grace and work (see Rom. Eph. 2:5-10; Jam. 2:14-26), and it gives discipline the proper perspective. Only in Christ can we simultaneously do and rest without any worry of legalism or spiritual stagnation. It is “in Christ” where we are freed from sin so that we can grow up in our new identity (read Romans 6). If we fail to recognize that we have already been freed from sin in Christ, then we cannot grow. A plant cannot grow on its own; it must rely on the sun, water and good soil. It did not choose to become a plant, it simply is a plant. Likewise, we must first rest in our identity in Christ so that we can grow into our new identity by doing good deeds. 

If we have missed the enormity of these two words, “in Christ,” it's not too late. The beauty of being “in Christ” is that it's a reality whether we acknowledge it or not. It's an objective fact that we are invited to join. It's a fact we must return to over and over if we wish to grow, but it is always there to welcome us in. 

No comments:

Post a Comment