Hidden, remain, abide, and press into are all concepts used to describe this idea of a relationship with Christ. Have you ever been reading the Bible and felt like you are in a foreign country trying to understand street signs? The idea of “in Christ” has always been a mystery to me. The last 18 months has left me in a place as a disciple and pastor trying to better understand who I am in Christ. The obvious brokenness of our world seems more evident now than I have every experienced. The lostness of our world seems to have even left me at times questioning my own identity in Christ and calling as a pastor. Maybe you are like me and the last 18 months has cause you too to struggle with more than just the bombardment of political agendas. If that’s you, then let’s go with me and explore the sometimes confusing and often elusive idea of being “in Christ.”
WHACK! A lightning bolt cracked just fifty yards from where I stood in my garage. The explosion of incredible energy took every ounce of its anger out on a large pine tree. Before the splinters and embers could drop to the ground, my daughter Olivia (who was 2 at the time) climbed up my leg and into my arms, as if she were a bolt of lightning herself, and hid her face into my chest. I can still remember the defining boom and the rumble in my chest from the power unleashed by the lighting. My mind quickly shifted from the lightening as I realized I could barely breathe due to Olivia’s stranglehold around my neck. Her instincts were to run to me for protection, hide in the arms of her dad, and fully believe I would shelter her.
Studying our identity in Christ has led me to new depths of understanding what it means to be a disciple. I relate it to that day Olivia was holding onto me so tightly we were practically one. I had previously viewed “in Christ” as my prayer time or studying the Scriptures, both vital parts of a disciple’s life. I missed that Paul means so much more. Our identity comes from Christ because HE is the one that created us and bought us out from the penalty of sin. Not only creating us but drawing us close through HIS sacrifice on the cross. He literally saved us from the lightning bolt that is the wrath of God. That is sometimes the how and what “in Christ” is all about. When we are “in Christ” we are intimately close to him. We are like that child hiding in the arms of our heavenly father, so close we are practically one.
We begin to lose our identity when we are dependent on ourselves, when we rely on our own abilities to protect us from the storms or struggles of this world. When I take credit for the provision or gifts that He gives, I view it as if I am climbing down from His arms and saying to God, “I got this now, thanks for the help.” I become self-focused and less about Him. My identity shifts and I can begin to look like a disciple of the world rather than a disciple of Jesus.
When the Apostle Paul uses “In Christ” I believe he is pointing us to an idea that is incredibly intimate and relational, like a child clinging to their father. There are connotations of intimate spiritual communion with Christ. We who are baptized into Christ are “in Him” and find not only our safety, security and provision; but also, our very identity. We are a new creation. We are HIS.
Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:2
In the storms of life right now, what is your proximity to God? He promises to never leave, but what about you? Are you spiritually close to God? If you are a leader or pastor in the church are trying to navigate crashing thunder of this world by being self-reliant? Have you forgotten that as a disciple, you are “in Christ?” I hope this week you find yourself more in the arms of the Father than the storms of this world.
By Brandon Guindon, Senior Pastor
Real Life Ministries Texas