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Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Christ as Inner Reality

'Christ in you, the hope of glory'; when the apostle Paul wrote these mysterious words to the Church at Colosse, he had just been telling them about his sacrificial service on their behalf. ( This in itself might give us a hint as to what Jesus meant when He told His disciples they would do 'greater works' ( John 14:12 ) than He did ). By telling them this, was the apostle simply telling them that the Spirit of the Christ, or God, would be their Guide, or was he telling them something more delicious? He used the phrase 'Body of Christ' a lot, too; what do you think he meant by that? Was he just using a metaphor, juxtaposing the Body of Christ with the body of Moses, or was he saying something different?

Many people seem to think that 'Christ' was Jesus' last name! I'm not well-versed in ancient history, but I know enough to tell you that Jesus, if indeed He had a last name, would have been called 'Jesus ben Joseph' ( kinda like 'Judah ben Hur', from the classic movie starring Charlton Heston ), for, as far as most people could tell, Joseph was His father. Put simply, 'Christ' means 'anointed, or sent'. As such, Jesus was called 'the Christ' because He was sent by His Father to redeem His people, the Jews.

In his letter to the Church at Rome, Paul explained the somewhat enigmatic phrase in question a little more in-depth. He wrote to them ( Romans 8 ) that, since the Spirit of God ( the Christ ) was in them, their innermost being, they were thus free from the sin that so easily beset them. He went on to tell them that though they were free now, they were still going to suffer much pain from those who had not been freed like them.

Though the apostle's words were written to address a certain situation that his original audience was about to face ( if they weren't facing it already ), we should also take his words to heart, for they are almost as relevant today, or so it would seem! Those who have 'accepted Jesus', so to speak, having thus been freed from the burden of guilt that many of us still seem to bear, often seem to suffer still, at the hands of those who have not, nor will 'accept' the Messiah of Israel, or Jesus the Christ.

Much of the suffering that goes on around the world, in this manner, is totally unnecessary! To 'suffer for the Name of Christ' is still worn by many Christians as a Badge of Courage. This is not to say that the suffering of people like Corrie Ten Boom or Richard Wurmbrand ( there are countless others ) was useless or that the sacrifices they made were for nothing. On the contrary, through their suffering, the Kingdom of Heaven advanced & continues to advance.

Much of the problem, as this blogger sees it, is that many or most Christians have not realized the true gravity of 'Christ in you, the hope of glory'. Not only are we free from indwelling sin, but as Jesus said, we will do & have done 'greater works'! 'The Christ', as most, if not all Christians view it, was embodied by Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. Biblically speaking, Jesus was THE Christ, but was Jesus the only one?

As Christians, we confess, along with Scripture, that Jesus was/is the only begotten Son of God.We also agree that it is through Him alone ( the Christ, the Son of God ) that one gains access to the Father ( John 14:6 ). What most fail to realize or remember is that 'as He is, so are we in this world' ( I John 4:17 ). In context, I realize, the apostle's words were directed to a specific audience for a specific time, but they also bear this meaning for us today; when we face trials & suffer for our witness, we face them with the same Strength He did!

'We are not Him', most will argue: 'agreed, we are not Jesus, we were not born over 2,000 years ago, nor are we Hebrews ( Jewish? ), but have we not been sent for the very same purpose, have we not been anointed to carry on His labors; were we not told we would accomplish 'greater works'? As He was the Christ for the redemption of that world, are we not given the ministry of reconciliation for our world? Yes, Scripturally speaking, we understand that He was 'Sent' to 'save His people from their sins' ( Matthew 1:21 ). We do not save people from their sins, maybe, in the exact same sense that He did, although, through the same Love that He showed those He healed, we do forgive them & help them to see the Light!

The Story of Israel comes from a culture that is both ancient & almost totally foreign to us, though our economy is based largely on theirs. The Sacrifice of Jesus at Golgotha had been foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament. ( Animal sacrifice was apparently an acceptable thing in that culture; in ours, not so much ). This is not to say that Jesus suffered & died for the Jews alone; His atonement baptized the entire creation, both Jew & Gentile. In other words, it was universal in scope, heightening our responsibility to carry on His work, as the Christ, spreading the Good News of Redemption & Reconciliation throughout our world!

As mentioned before, the trials & sufferings that Christians have gone through in the past & continue to go through around the world fulfilled & continue to fulfill their purpose. Though these men & women suffered as the Christ, most do not recognize this, nor do they realize, sadly, their Power. Use some mysterious term like 'the Body of Christ', if you wish, say that they were/are merely representing the Christ; these men & women were & are presenting the Christ to a lost & dying world. for all intents & purposes, they ARE the Christ!

The apostle's words in Romans 8 hold as true for us today as they did back then! It is this blogger's opinion that many today, even Christians, suffer death because though they acknowledge the Spirit in them, they yet deny, or at least fail to realize that it is not a borrowed Strength they wield; it is the very same Strength as Jesus employed. Because of a misplaced hope, as well as other reasons, many or most Christians, while realizing their spiritual nature, to whatever extent, yet place overmuch focus on their carnal ( physical? ) nature & thus end, physically speaking, in death, just like Paul warned ( Romans 8::6 )!

Jesus DID embody the Christ; there is no doubt, but when we do those 'greater works', so do we! We present the Christ every time we show the Love we were shown by our Heavenly Father. Every time we help a little old lady across the street, every time we feed a starving orphan, every time we defend the fatherless & widows. The Christ is being presented all over the world, even though those who embody Him may not realize it: this is the true meaning of 'Christ in you, the hope of glory'!

Live it, Love it, Lavish it!
Charles Haddon Shank

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