I’ve observed an interesting thing over the years in the body of Christ. We seem to know who Christ is, but we don’t seem to grasp the reality of what we’ve become in Him.
And this is critical because our destiny is tied to our identity. And identity is tied to identification.
Case in point. I will get a resounding response from most believers to the fact that God came for us, to save us and set us free. Yes, amen. But a surprising few resonate so much to the more important fact that the Father’s plan was to substitute Christ for us and place us in Him. I think this is unfortunate.
One view looks at what Christ does for us apart from us, the other looks at what we’ve become because Christ included us.
As C. Baxter Kruger points out (“[GOD] is FOR us“), “It is one thing to say that God has done something in Jesus which can be our reconciliation. It’s quite another to say that God reconciled us in Christ (2 Cor.5:18). One says God did something for us in Christ, the other says God did something with us in Christ.”
It all begins and ends with Jesus Christ. His life is the only Christian life. This is eternal life–the zoe life of God.
As Gary Whetstone said, “Anything that says God is there and I’m here is not God…God must be identified in and through my life.”
We actually have no identity of our own apart from our union with Christ. Not that we have no unique personality or value or purpose, but that Christ defines our new life.
If we fail to see our inseparable connection within Christ as a believer, we fail to see our true existence. We fail to find our life and, thus, seek it outside of Christ. This vain pursuit only leads to frustration and angst in our God-thirsty soul.
Now we may understand our life in Christ conceptually but not in the practical, everyday, transformed perspective meant for us to walk in.
For instance, many Christians talk about having to “die to self.” But this is not only unscriptural, it makes Christianity no different than any other man-made religion. But biblical authentic faith tells me I’m already dead to self. My life is now Christ’s life. There’s quite a difference between the two.
Paul was obsessed with this new reality. He simply concludes, “For You died, and your life is hidden in Christ.” (Col.3:3)
He didn’t say we need to die, or we will die if we’re serious enough. He stated emphatically, you’re dead. So it’s futile to keep trying to do something God has already done. We can only believe it, rest in it, and walk it out by faith.
As I said in another post, we need to live on the right side of the Cross.
This was why Paul continually prayed that we would get this glorious reality about ourselves (Eph.1:15-2:6). For this is the gospel, the good news! But it requires revelation.
Man can’t teach it to you but the Spirit will reveal it to you if you are open to receive it.
For the new creation perspective is one from heaven to earth, rather than from earth to heaven. We now see all things in Christ, seated with Him in heavenly places–far above all principalities and powers…which includes all our circumstances.
Of course, our inner reality affects our outer reality, so we need our minds renewed to this new reality about who we already are–from believing in Jesus to believing like Jesus.
Nonetheless, many believers still seem to see themselves separated from Christ’s life. On the outside, striving to get in somehow. This is not the Good News!
As Paul said emphatically to the Colossians, this is fraudulent Christianity, a worldly philosophy, inventions of men designed to rob you of your inheritance (Col.2:8-10). And he would also probably say that much of what passes for authentic Christian teaching in our evangelical world has the appearance of wisdom, humility and godliness, but is nothing more than powerless religion with a “Christian” veneer (Col.2:20-23).
Jesus didn’t just come just to enhance our lives–to forgive us, heal us and deliver us from oppression. His main purpose was not even to give us a ministry of preaching, healing and miracles. Although all these things are included, they are sidebars to the main point. Jesus came to give us His life. Yes, He did something to us. He changed our very existence, made us something unprecedented and unique in human history. And He was the “prototype” of this new species. (Rom.8:29)
This is the New Covenant. For the gospel cannot just be about forgiveness of sin. You could have your sins forgiven under the Old Covenant by slaughtering enough bulls and sheep. No, this “better covenant” is about identification. It’s not about religious requirements or sin management, it’s about the new creation (Gal.6:15).
This is the mystery of the ages that was Paul’s obsession, and it should consciously and habitually possess us, which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Col.1:27).
And this new and unprecedented species of God’s creation called “Christ-ian” (the suffix ian means “resembling”) was the Father’s plan all along–to bring, as C. Baxter Kruger has also pointed out, “a new reality of Divine-human togetherness.”