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Tuesday
Jul202010

Christ Lives in Me

Few remember the context – a rebuke of Peter for refusing to eat meals with Gentile brethren – but most revere the faithful words of the apostle Paul in the letter to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (2:20). On some level, that is the kind of discipleship and attitude we all would desire, but how many of us are actively pursuing it? How many of us are that ready to surrender our wills and our earthly ambitions to put him ahead of everything? His life was snuffed out in its fourth decade; will we extend it by giving him ours?

I. God Lives In Us

    A. Godhead in Us and We in Them

        1. when Jesus visited one last time with his apostles before his arrest, he tried to guide and comfort them in view of the shocking separation about to come (John 14:8-11)

            a. doubting Thomas was not sure about the way, but it was Philip who simply wanted to see some evidence or manifestation of God the Father that his faith might be solidified

            b. Jesus answered that they had already seen the Father if they had been paying attention to Jesus, for he was in perfect union with his father (see John 10:30)

        2. so perfect was that union that imitating the son guaranteed the approval of the father (John 12:44-48)

            a. when we find the example of Jesus too distasteful or pacifist or meek, we are really finding fault with our God and judge, and condemning ourselves to ignorance and loss (John 15:23-25)

            b. Jesus “is the image of the invisible God,” our flesh and blood representation of what it means to be above the fray and meant for glory (see Colossians 1:15)

            c. Jesus “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).

        3. something figurative and interesting happens to the disciple of Christ when he makes up his mind to give his life to God – he becomes a temple in which God can live and bless, “For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people’” (Second Corinthians 6:16).

        4. but while this might sound like something that is purely emotional, it is truly rooted in our union with God through his son and his word (First John 3:23-24)

            a. then, there is “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6).

            b. the emotion that surrounds this relationship must be active and selfless (First John 4:11-17)

            c. God is love and when we are also love, there is tangible evidence that God and his son are comfortably, if figuratively, dwelling in us

 

    B. The Spirit in You

        1. and then, likewise, it becomes evident that the Holy Spirit, who has delivered the words of the Bible to ancient pens and modern ears, can also dwell in us in the same manner

        2. being a temple of the Holy Spirit means making room in your heart for the will of God to be the law of the land (Romans 8:9-11)

        3. the Spirit dwells in us as the Father and Son dwell in us, not by compulsion or oppression, but by invitation and influence

            a. the evidence is not rolling in the aisles or frothing at the mouth, but a changed life that can only be attributed to “sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (Second Thessalonians 2:13).

            b. it is by that process that we are sealed with Holy Spirit and strengthened to fight our spiritual battles (Ephesians 3:17-19; see also Ephesians 1:11-14)

        4. but, for Paul, all of this was summed up in the indwelling of his savior, Jesus the Christ, whose relatively brief earthly life is extended by millennia as faithful followers strive to imitate his example in their own lives, passing it along from faith to faith and generation to generation

 

II. Christ In Us

    A. Formed In You

        1. it is obedient faith that causes Christ to be formed in the believer, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

        2. but even then there is much work to do in making the image of Christ complete; Paul said he felt like a mother in labor must feel as he watched these Galatians struggling to figure things out: “I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19)!

        3. it wasn’t easy for Gentiles to abandon idolatry and ignorance to enter the kingdom of Christ and many Jews made it even harder by trying to proselytize them first (Colossians 1:24-29)

        4. today, there are just as many impediments to forming Christ in people, but as then, “there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11).

 

    B. Flesh and Blood

        1. that relationship to the savior is more than just a cultural meme; it is a flesh-and-blood response to the one who died for us (John 6:45-58)

            a. those people had dined upon free fish and bread and they figured that if Jesus wanted to maintain them as followers, he would at least have to do what Moses did by raining down daily manna upon them

            b. they, of course, were not nomads and pilgrims like in the Exodus; they were just lazy and greedy, but still Jesus promised them a richer meal anyway

            c. it was one that would do little for their bellies, but everything for their spirits and so they walked away

        2. is it repulsive to you to talk about eating the Lord’s flesh and drinking his blood?

            a. it shouldn’t be, for that perfectly illustrates real discipleship, the kind that passes superficiality and culture-driven religion and gets to the heart and the actions and eternity

            b. it is the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week, but so much more as the Savior is integrated into the fibers of our being

        3. as the communion meal is meant to proclaim the Lord’s death until his return, so our lives display the power of the resurrected savior (Second Corinthians 4:7-11)

 

    C. In The Faith

        1. that is the kind of discipleship that makes sacrifices and takes risks with physical things because of the spiritual implications: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

            a. I no longer belong to the religious instructors who led me astray, or the philosophers who dabbled in idolatry or the experts whose godless mindsets ignore the divine reality

            b. I abandon them all and surrender everything to Christ Jesus

        2. I make room in my heart not only for the Spirit, but for Christ himself – his example, his attitude, his will, and I am changed (Ephesians 3:14-19)

        3. and I am even willing to examine myself to make certain that I never stray from that faith (Second Corinthians 13:5-9)

 

    D. Perfectly One

        1. the only thing that is daunting about the example of Christ is its perfection; for some people who are perfectionists, it can be a bit demoralizing when they realize how frequently and how far they fall short of his perfection

        2. rest assured that God does not expect perfection from you; he expects effort and growth and sincerity without making excuses for shortcomings (First Peter 1:13-17)

        3. life’s goal becomes narrowing the discrepancies between our lives and his example, finding unity with the Godhead by imitating the visible manifestation of God (John 17:15-24)

        4. the apostles were challenged to maintain this kind of careful discipleship so that they could continue to be fruitful sowers of the gospel seed (John 15:1-11)

            a. like a branch or the fruit that grows on it, we have to find a way to stay connected to the vine so that every life-giving, spirit-sustaining drop of instruction can flow uninterrupted into our hearts

            b. it is when we sever ourselves from the vine and violate the work of the branches that we feel our confidence wither and our resolve wilt

            c. we must keep Christ in us, and us in him

 

Conclusion

Can we truly say that Christ lives in us? That really is what being a Christian is about.

 

Questions For Review

  1. What would make Christ’s arrest so shocking to the apostles?
  2. What did Thomas want? What did Philip want?
  3. How was Jesus the answer to both of them?
  4. How are we temples of the Holy Spirit?
  5. How do we come into Christ? How can we know he is in us?
  6. What happens when we eat his flesh and drink his blood?
  7. What does it take to find unity with him and his father?

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