Duration: 5 Days
Preview: 2 days
Authors: Rankin Wilbourne and David C Cook
The concept of being one with Jesus is spiritual and it is mysterious. Yet once it’s embraced, nothing is more practical for enjoying the Christian life. Discover how union with Christ is not only possible, but it is possible now. With over 75000 completions in my.bible.com app, Union With Christ is one of the best startups for young believers or for those New to Faith.
Mind the Gap
- 2 Corinthians 5:17
- Galatians 2:20
A skeptical friend once asked me, “If the gospel is supernatural, as you say, then why doesn’t it seem to make more of a difference in the lives of so many who claim to believe it?”
That’s a great question and not just for skeptics. Because the gap between what Christians claim is true about themselves and what we often see when we look in the mirror—that gap is real.
Melissa knows it and John Newton knew it. And I’m writing this book because I’ll tell you a secret. In my job I’ve learned there are a lot of people out there who feel alone and afraid, who feel like a fraud.
Do you feel the gap? Having the courage to recognize it and admit it is the first step in this gap being closed. You must mind the gap.
But it’s certainly possible to ignore, or not be bothered by, the gap. I’ll never forget the first sermon I ever preached. As I stood at the door afterwards greeting people on their way out, one older man patted me on the shoulder like I was a young cub scout and said, “Well, that was a nice sermon. Now, back to the real world.”
If, like that man, you never try to connect the truths of God to your everyday life; if you construct a wall to divide the sacred “nice sermons” from the secular “real world”; if you keep Jesus and his authority safely tucked away in heaven where he can’t threaten your way of doing things, then this gap won’t concern you. It won’t even occur to you that it should.
Neither will this gap concern you if you believe that the gospel means you have a ticket to heaven when you die and that grace means you don’t need to strive to obey Christ while you live. If you believe “It is finished” means there’s nothing then left for you to do; if you consider Jesus’ call to discipleship to be optional, reserved for the cloistered few or super-committed, then you won’t be bothered by the gap either.
And sadly, many Christians have lived with this gap for so long that they no longer mind it. Ernest Hemingway ends his novel The Sun Also Rises with the line, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” And isn’t that how many of us feel, in the quiet of our hearts, about these grand, high promises in the Bible: “Rivers of living water,” or, “Whoever drinks of the water that I give him shall never thirst” (John 7:37; 4:14)? Wouldn’t it be pretty to think so? Now, back to the real world.
What is Union with Christ?
- 1 Peter 2:24
- Romans 8:1
Faith is how union with Christ becomes operative and powerful in your life. Faith is a God-given gift that allows you to take hold of God’s having taken hold of you.
If you are in Christ, this is now the defining truth of who you are. Your life, your story, becomes enfolded by another story—Another’s story. That’s one way to define faith: faith means finding your identity in Christ.
“I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Paul is unusually personal here because he wants it to be utterly personal for you. He wants you, too, to be able to say, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
I have a friend who used to be Mickey Mouse. She was the person inside the costume at Disneyland. Reflecting on her time “in Mickey,” she says, “Growing up, I thrived on behavior modification. I thought: If I’m good, I will be loved. If I’m bad, I will be rejected.
I learned to wear a mask—not to show what was really going on. My core beliefs were that I was not worthy, accepted, or loved, so I would clamor and manufacture ways to elicit the positive responses I wanted from people.
When I put on Mickey’s costume, I got that positive response times a hundred.” She felt safe and loved, covered in Mickey’s “righteousness.” But she also gained a new sense of what it means to be in Christ. She recalls praying, “Lord, is this what it’s like to have masses of people run towards you with joy, excitement, and eagerness?”
This is another way to picture what it means for you to be in Christ. You are completely safe, hidden in him. He represents you before the Father. He covers you—your sin, your shame, your weakness. But he covers you in a very real way, not as a temporary fiction.
Being “in Mickey” (or any other mask we hide behind) is to masquerade in a false identity. But being in Christ is to discover our true, God-given identity. You are alive in him, moving with him through this world, clothed in all his benefits and blessings. You are in Christ.
To be found in Christ means you don’t have to prove yourself anymore. Your frantic attempts to find or craft an acceptable identity, or your tireless work to manage your own reputation—these are over and done. You can rest. In Christ. You don’t have to be intimidated by anyone, ever. Who are you? You are in Christ! And you no longer need to fear the judgment of God (1 John 4:18). When God looks at you, he sees you hidden in Christ. This is freedom. This is confidence. This is good, good news.
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