‘Ever watch one of those television shows that provides a person with a complete makeover? By the end of the hour she (or sometimes he) has acquired a personalized, updated wardrobe, learned how to apply make-up, and received a new hair-do. The physical transformation is always stunning.
However, there is a transformation even more amazing. Paul explains it this way:
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Those of us in Christ haven’t just been adjusted, primped, polished, or camouflaged. We have become new people with clean slates, strong purpose, deep joy, and vibrant enthusiasm for life.
And that’s not all. Each day we’re becoming better than the day before–a bit more perfected–if we remain in Christ. Sarah Young (Jesus Calling) says we’re becoming more fully our true selves–the ones God designed us to be. I like that.
Each day in Christ is an opportunity to grow more completely into his glorious image. These changes have nothing to do with outward appearance. They take place on the inside, impacting our personalities, emotions, minds, and spirits.
That expression, in Christ (also “in the Lord” and “in him”), occurs 164 times in Paul’s letters. Such repetition would indicate the importance of the concept.
So how would we define the meaning of being “in Christ?” Here are a few possibilities.
In Christmeanswe live within his presence. Now that’s a rather abstract concept. Perhaps an analogy would increase our understanding.
Picture yourself surrounded by trees in a forest. The woods fill your senses—the sight of tall, stately trees, the sound of chirping birds, the aroma of pine and earth, the textures of rough bark and velvety moss, the taste of cold, clear water from a stream.
Similarly, the presence of Christ completely surrounds us as believers. Christ fills the senses of our hearts, if we avail ourselves. We see more fully the glory of his creation, hear his truth, breathe in his love like a fine fragrance, feel his strength upholding us, and taste his goodness in the feast of blessings he provides.
Such sensations change who we are. In Christ, we can become stable, contented, joy-filled people.
In Christmeanswe are united with him, like a branch fused to the vine (John 15:1-8). He is the Source of everything we need, but we must stay in contact with him. How do we do that with Someone who’s invisible? Possibilities include prayer, praise, gratitude, and worship–throughout the day.
And when we’re united with him, his peace and strength are infused into us.
In Christmeanswe’re in close relationship with him. Never should there “be day when we give ourselves a chance to forget him” (William Barclay).
And when we live in the presence of Christ, and in union with Christ, the inner transformation he has instituted will most definitely become visible. Jesus’ character will begin to flow through our attitudes and actions, just as sap flows through the vine into the branches. Attitudes like kindness, understanding, and forgiveness will give strong evidence that we’re living in Christ.
And what will the people around us see? Folks who…
exude joy and optimism.
are gracious to others.
make wise choices.
aim to express love–always.
Such delightful, purposeful living awaits those who center themselves in Christ.
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Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the supreme privilege of living in your presence. You are the King of the universe, yet you want to be united with us in close relationship. And as we avail ourselves, you infuse us with your attributes, your strength, your peace. All praise to you, gracious Savior, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, as we abide in you.
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