Saturday, September 20, 2008

Christ in You

God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

                        Colossians 1.27

It’s a Mystery

The great gospel singer Andrae Crouch once wrote a simple, honest tune encapsulating the central mystery of Christianity: "I don’t know why Jesus loved me; I don’t know why He cared. I don’t know why He sacrificed His life. Oh, but I’m glad, so glad He did." The song splendidly summarizes Titus 3.5: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” And it speaks to Isaiah’s despondency about our unworthiness: “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64.6)

The possibility of God’s acceptance comes only through our impossibility to attain it. It’s a conundrum that can’t be logically explained or solved. It can only be embraced by faith. After we internalize it, we shouldn’t be rattled if others can’t comprehend or appreciate it. Nor should we be shocked to encounter those with no earthly idea why anyone—especially Jesus—wants to love us, or why they’re most definitely not glad about our assurance that He does.

Alienated Attitudes

Paul told the Colossians, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds, as shown by your evil behavior.” (Colossians 1.21) When the subject of behavior arises, ostracized believers tend to get defensive. Being told they didn’t act like “acceptable” Christians was what drove them away to begin with. But look carefully at what Paul said and an entirely different picture emerges. Unworthy behavior is a product, not a cause, of rejection. And here’s the mystery’s most stunning twist: wrongdoing directly results from choosing to adopt alienated attitudes. “You were enemies in your minds,” Paul wrote, “so you started acting out.” 

Paul's logic works like this. We were labeled as unworthy, naïvely believed it, and then--thinking we had nothing to lose--lent credence to the lies with our actions. Therefore, invalidating any excuses for our rejection starts by refusing to entertain the slightest doubt about God's love and acceptance. That's where so many of our problems, including self-condemnation and battles with temptation, originate. 

The Ripple Effect

Overcoming alienation is vital for our own spiritual growth and profoundly changes our lives. But its impact reaches farther, setting off a ripple effect in others’ lives. Listen to Philippians 2.5-7: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who… made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” In service to others, we step out of ourselves, Christ moves in, and the mystery comes alive. When people who once dismissed us as unacceptable see Christ in us, they witness His power in action. It proves He can and will use anyone who follows Him, providing hope that they too may experience His glory. It’s no longer a mystery. Now it’s a miracle.

Allowing Christ's power to work in us sets off a ripple effect that reaches others with the hope that His glory can also be revealed in them.

(Tomorrow: Going Overboard)


FranIAm said...

What a great blog you have here. I think I may have come by once before via Shuck and Jive but this is as a result of seeing you at Missy's.

I shall return and I am going to link to you in a post soon, called Christians Who Think - The Brothers Edition (i did the women the other day in the sisters edition!)

Peace to you and God bless.

Tim said...

Fran, thanks for your gracious note. Any friend of John Shuck and Missy is a friend of mine! I breezed by your blog, Franiam, and found it delightful. I'd be pleased as punch to link it here, if that's okay with you. And I'm deeply honored that you want to link Straight-Friendly in your upcoming post.

By all means, return to S-F often and please don't hesitate to add comments when you feel moved to do so. The more we hear and learn from one another, the richer and stronger we'll be!

Be blessed,

FranIAm said...

Great- I am back and I shall return. I would be on honored to be linked in any way.

My post is still in the pipeline... I have about 35 links to build in!

In the meantime, I will add you to my blogroll.

And yes- friends of Shuck and Missy are treasures indeed, as you are!

Pax my brother.

Tim said...

Fran, linked you in today's post, "I Surrender!," and added you to the "GLBT Sites, Groups, and Allies" blog roll. I'm glad were finally connected!