He In Us, We In Him
Abide in me, and I in you….Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.(John15:4-5)
Christ said not only “Abide in me” but also “I in you” (John 15:4). The Epistles speak not only of us in Christ but of Christ in us, as the highest mystery of redeeming love. As we maintain our place in Christ day by day, God waits to reveal Christ in us as in such a way that He is formed in us, that His mind and disposition and likeness acquire form and substance in us, so that in truth we can say, “Christ liveth in me”(Galatians 2:20).
My life in Christ up there in heaven, and Christ’s life in me down here on earth- these two are the complement of each other. And more my waiting on God is marked by the living faith, I in Christ, the more the heart thirsts for and claims the Christ in me. The waiting on God, which began with special needs and prayer, will increasingly be concentrated, as far as our personal life is concerned,on this one thing: Lord, reveal Your redemption fully to me; let Christ live in me.
For this, we wait on God, from whom alone is our expectation in regard to the revelation of Christ in us. We are absolutely helpless to bring it about. God did not work out the great redemption in Christ as a whole and leave its application in detail to us.
The revelation of Christ in every individual believer, and in each one the daily revelation, step by step and moment by moment, is as much the work of God’s omnipotence as the birth or resurrection of Christ. Until this truth enters and fills us, and we feel that we are just as dependent upon God for each moment of our life in the enjoyment of redemption as they were in their waiting for it; our waiting upon God will not bring its full blessing.
Suppose someone decided that they were going to live their lives as a series of recorded events. At the end of each day they got out their list and checked off their activities for that day. Got out of bed-check; kissed the spouse-check; hugged the kids-check; petted the dog-check; got dressed-check; went to work-check; came home and had dinner-check; went to bed-check; and each day the list was made and checked off with each activity seen as an event. Wouldn’t you wonder it there was any feelings or emotions or spontaneity and if the person was really alive and living. Of course such a lifestyle seem silly to us for we know that life and relationships cannot be a set of lists that we check off. There would be days when we could check every box and other days when only one or two were checked. Were we to measure our relationships and life by those boxes we would more than likely view them all as failures.
Yet, many Christians view their journey with God as a series of lists of things they must do and when they check them off, they breathe a sigh of relief at having done their duty for another day or week. For example, the list could read like this: went forward at invitation-check; was baptized-check; joined the church-check; read my verse of the day-check; prayed my prayer for the day-check; gave an offering at church-check; attended church service-check; participated in a church activity-check…… You get the idea.
Like every relationship we may have, our relationship with God has never been designed to be a checklist of events. Now I use checklist when I have work to be done to keep me on track and if that’s the case then checklists are good tools. But as it pertains to relationships; if it’s so poor that we feel compelled to comply with expectations rather than walking together and enjoying the relationship in which the only moving thing is our love for one another, then we find ourselves feeling obligation rather than desire.
All the events I listed for both relationships; human and godly are good things for they express the essence of relationship. But if the activity is our focus rather than the life of relationship we are doomed to eventual failure in the relationship itself. I think for many this is why their walk with God grows cold for they have made it a checklist rather than a living relationship. One of the things the pandemic has created is that much of our church activity checklist has either disappeared or changed drastically. For those who felt compelled to check their list week after week, the inability to do so has made a discouraging empty place in their lives. As I’ve grown older, I’ve recognized that all my relationships are changing. The relationship that Sherry and I have enjoyed for 40+ years is not the same as it was in the beginning. My relationship with my children has gone from holding them as tiny babies to our relationships as adults. You get the picture. Because of the constant changes of life the only constant has been the love, the sharing and the living relationship that has the capacity to mold itself to its surroundings.
This is what Christ was saying when He says, “I in you and you in Me.” Our journey with God goes through many stages but what keeps it fresh is its heart connection. Christ dwells in my heart and I dwell in His and we journey together, facing each day and each event together and no matter what changes around us, we seek to be together.
As we face an uncertain future I urge us as people of God to pursue the heart relationship with God. Some of the things that have been on our checklist will probably be gone in the post-pandemic world. I pray that none of the changes will thwart us in our pursuit of Christ. I pray that our relationship with God and others remains flexible enough to accommodate any situation that arises beyond our control. I pray that our prayer life, our Word life and our church life will take on new meaning; far beyond any checklist. May our hearts be set ablaze with our love for God and may they melt in His presence. May we become one with Him; Christ in us and we in Him.
Dr. John Thompson