At that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (John 14:20)
Evangelical theology is very relationship-based. To evangelicals, being a Christian means having a right relationship with the Father through His Son Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 5:21). But this characterization does not go far enough. The relationship picture does not adequately describe the situation of those in Christ.
To see this, let us first examine the association between Jesus and His Father. To Jesus, the Father was not just a separate person to speak with, to love and to be loved by. The connection runs far deeper than that. Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. The words that I speak to you are not my own. The Father that lives in me , He does the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.” (John 14:10-11) So Jesus and the Father are inseparably intermingled. Whatever Jesus says and does is not Jesus alone, but the Father speaking and acting with and through Jesus.
The Bible furnishes other examples to help us understand this. Eve’s flesh and bones were not only hers, but Adam’s as well – for she was made from Adam’s flesh and bone (Genesis 2:23). Those who saw Eve, also literally saw Adam (and not just a duplicate). Physically, Eve is part and parcel of Adam – just so, Jesus spiritually is part and parcel of the Father.
Another example may be found in the book of Ezekiel, which contains a bizarre description of Ezekiel’s vision of four living creatures and four wheels (Ezekiel 1:4-21). Creatures and wheels moved together in perfect synchrony, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. The same synchrony can be seen in Jesus and His Father. “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but only what He sees the Father doing” (John 5:19).
Now we may apply these very same descriptions to the Christian and Christ. For Jesus makes it very clear that He intends His disciples is to be as inextricably interconnected with Him as He is with the Father (John 17:11, 21-23). To paraphrase Amy Grant: we cannot tell where Jesus stops and where we begin.
Does this mean I become a Christ, elevated to the same level as Jesus? Not at all. In Jesus’ case, the fullness of the Father dwelt bodily in Him (Colossians 2:9). But for believers in Christ, the fullness of Jesus dwells, not in individuals, but in the entire Church as a whole (Ephesians 1:23). Individual believers in Christ are like cells in His collective body. Spiritually we are in Him, for together we comprise the corporate body which expresses His fullness. On the other hand, He is in us, for our renewed spirits are made of the same “stuff” that He is.
Just like each individual cell has DNA, from which the entire body can be replicated, so each Christian has within her/himself the spiritual life from which the entire Body can be generated. Just so, there have been single missionaries which have brought entire nations to Christ.
Too many Christians live life under their own power, rather than living and moving in concert with His Spirit. Too many Christians row their own boats, rather than hoisting their sails and waiting upon the wind. Why is this so? Because waiting is hard. As we wait, we are plagued by doubts and anxieties: “What if the wind arrives too late? What if it never comes?” We become fearful, because the wind is not something we can anticipate or control.
Notwithstanding the difficulties of waiting, there is no other way to live an empowered Christian life. For waiting expresses faith, while working does not.
Prayer: Lord, please teach me how to live not just with You, but in You - and You in me. I repent that I have tried to please You through my own efforts. From now on, may I please you by waiting for you patiently, and depending upon you utterly.
Copyright © 1998 CrossPollen
Last Revised: November 9, 2002
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