Monday, January 25, 2010

God Is the Architect Of Our In-Christness

(Me, in Bangkok)

Last night Linda and I went to the home of Bryan and Tera Shaffer, who are the Young Life Directors for Monroe and Lenawee counties. The occasion was a Young Life leadership meeting - some worship, sharing, prayer, and then I shared out of John 14-16 on what it means to "abide in Christ." As Linda and I left their home we agreed that it was good to be with these young leaders who are passionate about Jesus. We are so thankful for them, and for the excellent directorship of Bryan and Tera. They incarnate themselves in the lives of high school kids, meet them where they are at, and introduce them to the Revolutonary Jesus. Being at this gathering reminded us of our days in campus ministry at Michigan State University.

Now - more on "abiding in Christ."

The "open secret" of how Jesus said what he said and did what he did is found in John 14:10-11, where Jesus tells his disciples: "Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves." The worship song "Breathe" expresses this well: "Your holy presence, living in me; Your very word, spoken to me."

If we are Jesus-followers we are "in Christ." Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:30 says that it is because of God "that you are in Christ Jesus." Andrew Murray, in Abide in Christ, writes: "The whole Christian life depends on the clear consciousness of our position in Christ. Most essential to the abiding in Christ is the daily renewal of our faith's assurance, "I am in Christ Jesus."" Important to note is that "this is not of our own doing." This is God's doing, for us.

Murray cites Ephesians 2:10 in support of this: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." It should give you comfort to know that God has effected our "in-Christness," and that it's not of our own doing. Speaking for myself, as someone who is not skilled in things like carpentry or tentmaking, I am glad that God has put this thing together and not me. It greatly increases the chances that this thing that God has put together will not fall apart when the storms come!

Stand amazed that you and I have now become partakers of this union "in Christ," joined and fitted together by God himself. This is precisely why Jesus says "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12)

1. I am "in Christ."
2. Christ is in me, the hope of glory.
3. The peace and joy that is Christ's is, therefore, mine (because I am a "branch" connected to Jesus, the true Vine).
4. I can do all things in Christ.

As I write this my mind is saying...  cool.

I have not been able to get away from these Jesus-words for many months now. I am not only interested in the possibility of doing "even greater things" than Jesus did, but am also very interested in the doing of what Jesus had been doing. All of this, of course, not for one4's own fame, but to the glory of God and the magnifying of Jesus.

Today remember your position in Christ.

Brandon Robinson comments on Murray ch. 6

To abide, means to know the Spirit.

There is something mystical to this, and that unusual quality should not cause skepticism. The spiritual is an expansive realm. And, though removed from our more comfortable modes of thought, our stereotypes, our Hollywood interpretations, the seeming ethereal or abstract nature of something as elusive as a spirit does not yield it irrelevant. The point is my identity, and I am more than a shell with a psyche befit for socialization and entertainment.

But I can only encounter that epiphany of identity by abiding. And as much as the epiphany of my spiritual self is deemed good, as much as I genuinely agree with it, I must acknowledge abiding—something alien to my self until I knew it—as also congruent to my being. And yet I didn’t invent it. I don’t have the blueprints for it. I haven’t charted its horizons.

Abiding is a provision from a life I share because that life encompasses and defines the existence I envision as myself. Thus abiding is ever-present to me though I have nothing to impart to its creation or continuation. I give myself to know it, as effected by the Spirit’s nature giving itself in this way of knowing.