The season of Lent is a forty-day period mirroring Jesus' forty days of temptation in the wilderness. During this time, participants devote special attention to ... Read More
Our identity in Christ has profound practical applications, and each one of those sounds across the landscape of our new life with the promise of hope and strength. We are new creations, holy, one spirit with the Lord. We no longer live but Christ lives in us as our righteousness. We now are to live by reliance on him. These statements ask us to move differently into each day we are given, but what does it look like experientially to put our entire spirit, soul, and body into faithing in the new Reality?
Well, first of all it means opening our eyes to our real identity, eating his flesh and drinking his blood, building our self-concept on who Christ is, in us, what he has accomplished on our behalf, what he will accomplish through us. The Bible gives a completely different picture of reality than the world. Identity comes from God, not from performance, not from behavior. Christianity is not a “climb to the top of the mountain and become a guru” religion. It is a living, active, in-this-moment reliance on an indwelling Person, who has come to live inside us by grace through the Cross.
The first question is, “Do I really believe this? Does Christ live in me?” The second question would be, “Is he willing and able to live through me, as if it were me living, if I faithe in him?” If we don’t believe these propositions, it’s high time to get the Bible out and start digging, because we are believing in a sub-Christian Word of God.
But let’s say we know these two things as Fact. What then, does it look like? How does it work out in real-time?
A relationship is built on trust. Confidence. Mutual love. Also, it is built. As we relate, trust grows. Confidence builds. Love grows deeper, bigger.
We can’t build a close, deep relationship with a transcendent God who is somewhere “way up there” and who never speaks to us, anymore than a husband and wife could live 2000 miles apart for all the years of their marriage and only write letters. We need the immanent to begin to reveal the transcendent. As faithers in Jesus Christ, we have been given the very source and ground of Life itself; in him all things live and move and have their being, and he holds all things together. Inside of me, inside of you, lives the power that spoke, and nothing became everything. Does he not have the power to keep us from sin, to manifest love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, humility, and faith through us?
As this relationship is revealed, shown forth, built, we become more confident. The unseen becomes more real than the seen. Jesus becomes more real than circumstances, or fears, or all the other things we feel in our souls.
Back to the original question. What, then, does “betting the farm” look like?
In any situation, especially those of temptation, it means reiterating to ourselves that Christ is our real-time, here-and-now righteousness. More specifically, Christ is the particular virtue we need to get through the temptation moment. If we need patience, endurance, we have the patient, enduring One living inside us. We can turn to him in faith to let his patience and endurance flow through us. I sometimes say things out loud, if alone. Lord, you are perfect patience within me. I am betting the farm that your patience is flowing through me right this moment; Christ is living through me right here, right now.. I am putting my complete faith in you here. Then I step out in expectation that he will do what he has promised: “I will cause you to walk in my ways, and keep my statutes.”
To use another example, let’s say we need purity in a particular situation. Well, who am I? I’m just a cup, a vessel, a branch. I have no ability to independently produce fruit, to be pure on my own. But who is Jesus? He is the source of Purity. Where is he? Well, he lives inside of me. Can that purity, or patience, or joy, or love, be transmitted from his Spirit in me into my spirit, through my soul, through my body, my life, my actions? That question, answered rightly, is where the spinning tires hit the pavement and squeal off, squirrelly at first, but soon gaining speed and stability.
What about the rules? What about the commands? The commands are there partly to reveal – they reveal when we are not abiding, when we have tripped up in our trust and have started again to try being righteous by our own steam. The cure is to go back out of Romans 7 via the narrow gate called No Condemnation in Christ and get back into living in the faith-life of Romans 8. But I run ahead; that’s all for the next post.
Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.