The Joy of Being in Christ
It is hard to exaggerate all the joy of life in Christ. Do you know what it means to be in Him? This theme runs through Paul's letters.
[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: Ephesians; Philippians]
Last week we delved into two well-known but very different letters of Paul. Ephesians tells us essential truths we need to know and what we need to do about those truths 1. We could call it “Cosmic Perspectives for Daily Living” as Paul lays a theological foundation in God’s eternal decrees that leads to salvation, the unity of the Church, and personal ethics for believers who desire to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1).
Philippians is more personal and pastoral. Paul holds up Timothy, Epaphroditus, and himself as examples of those for whom “to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). My favorite Bible handbook nicknames Ephesians: “The Identify and Conduct of Those Who are in Christ” and Philippians: “The Joy of Living in Christ.” 2 The phrase “in Christ” runs through both of these letters.
A Visual of Being in Christ
Recently Pastor Tim Martin gave a great illustration of what it means to be “in Christ.” He described a set of Russian nesting dolls he obtained on a mission trip to the Ukraine. When you first look at the set, you see just one large painted wooden doll. Then on closer examination you realize that the doll is hollow and inside there is another doll slightly smaller. Inside that second doll you find another even smaller one. You can keep opening until you have a whole family of dolls each one smaller than the previous one. The last one is quite tiny. When you return all the smaller dolls to their “mother,” again you only see the largest one. And if you take that larger doll and move it or lift it up, all the other dolls inside are moved or raised up.
Here is the point. Whatever happens to the outer doll happens to all the rest, too. In a spiritual sense the same goes for those “in Christ.” If we are in Him, He is the one who is predominantly seen. Whatever happens to Him, happens to all those in Him. As He has been raised from death to life to sit in the heavenly places, so all who are in Him have been raised with Him and given every blessing in those heavenly places (Eph. 1:3).
1 See Displaying the Wisdom of God ; A Devotional Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians by Daniel Esau, WestBow, Bloomington, IN 2012, pp 1, 25
2 Ryken’s Bible Handbook: a guide to reading and studying the Bible. Leland Ryken, Philip Ryken, and James Wilhoit, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL 2005 pp. 527, 537
© John A Carroll 2018 Used by permission.