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. Two weeks ago I began this blog series in pursuit of better understanding my own identity in Christ and the journey sent me down a trail that led to the apostle Paul’s favorite term, “in Christ.” Last week Ashley did a great job talking about the masks we wear and the people we try to be, sometimes lost in our own identity. Behind our masks, we lose out on the authentic relationships that should come from our identity in Christ. Today I take another step down the trail and look at this 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 because Olivia was grasping so tightly to my neck. Her instincts were to run to me for protection, to hide in the arms of her dad, believing I would shelter her.
Studying our identity in Christ has lead me to new depths of understanding. 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 the Christian 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 back from our slavery to 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 similar to those who are in the world.
When the Apostle Paul uses this term 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? Have you forgotten that as a Christian, you are “in Christ?” I hope this week you are able to read the trail signs that point you to Jesus and that you press into him more than ever before.