What will you do in the New Year? Do you make resolutions or pick out a word to guide you? For me, I like to look to a word or phrase that can guide me through the year. This year, in light of COVID and all the unexpected challenges of 2020, I decided to focus on staying “in Christ.” So, for the year 2021, I want to align my life and thoughts with God, so I feel prepared for whatever comes my way.
The Meaning of “In Christ”
What does the phrase “in Christ” mean to our faith? I found these words on the C.S. Lewis website.
“To be “in Christ” does not mean to be inside Christ, as tools are in a box or our clothes in a closet, but to be organically united to Christ, as a limb is in the body or a branch is in the tree. It is this personal relationship with Christ that is the distinctive mark of his authentic followers.”(https://www.cslewisinstitute.org/In_Christ_page1)
We also find this phrase used by Paul throughout his letters in the New Testament. Paul used the term more than seventy-five times to express his thoughts. If Paul thought these words so important, then maybe I need to explore his ideas on them.
Surrender our old selves
To start this study of the phrase, we should begin with the central theme of the statement found in the verse below;
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”2 Corinthians 5:17
We become new creations when we unite with Christ. Our old way of living goes away. We no longer want things from our past that pull us away from God. We surrender our former lives to Him, and God exchanges them for something better. But, what do we get in return?
Let’s dig into some of Paul’s Bible verses to see how a life in Christ brings us a better way of living. We will look at six key themes.
In Christ, we become blessed. We find one example for this in Ephesians 1:3; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”
We receive forgiveness. Paul shows us this in Ephesians 4:32; “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
We become redeemed, righteous, and holy. We find these benefits in 1 Corinthians 1:30; “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”
We become united. Once again, Paul offers us this reflection in Galatians 3:28; “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
We receive grace. We turn to 2 Timothy 1:9 for this gift; “He has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,”
We will go to heaven. Paul shows us the ultimate reward for a life lived in Christ in 1 Thessalonians 4:16; “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”
When we are in Christ, we lose the things that weigh us down in life and gain blessings, forgiveness, redemption, unity, grace, and heaven. Sounds good to me. I want to use this year and become organically connected to Christ and deepen my relationship with Him. I want to follow the examples set by the Apostle Paul and be “In Christ.”
Abba, Father. Thank You, Father, that I am a branch united to you, my Lord Jesus Christ. May Your life flow through me like the sap flows through the limbs connected to the source. Fill me with Your fullness so that I may live and move and grow and bear fruit as I abide more and more in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Yvonne M. Morgan, author, blogger, and speaker.
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
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