How easy it is to slip into sacrifice, or service, or knowledge gathering, rather than obedient discipleship. Every other element of the Christian life: knowledge, (“I understand all mysteries;”) faith, (“I could remove mountains;”) service, (“I bestow all my goods to feed the poor;”) sacrifice, (“I give my body to be burned”) is nothing if we are not reflections of the love of Christ.
Do we really understand who this Master is we are called to be as? Do we know the “good” that God works all things together for? Are we living to apprehend what God has apprehended us for? Have we truly set our sights on the mark before us? If not, we will certainly substitute sacrifice for obedience; missing golden opportunities to take Christ’s yoke upon us and learn of Him; knowing little of the passion which declared: “I count all things but dung to know Him!”
Christian conversion signals far more than our assent to a new set of beliefs, or our practice of a new set of morals, it is the beginning of a participation in the life of Christ. Through such a fellowship, God has made it possible for us to triumph over our own flawed responses to the wrongs we suffer and the troubles we face. To transcend ourselves and be as He is in this world is the hope for every new life in Christ. Yet it is possible to live a long and unfruitful Christian life, where the resources of a faith which enables us to overcome evil are never tapped into.
Knowing Christ is not a mental exercise, but a fellowship: a union with Christ in which I walk in His Spirit and share His life.
Knowing Christ is not a mental exercise, but a fellowship: a union with Christ in which I walk in His Spirit and share His life. Paul declared, “Christ is our life.” Jesus Himself revealed, “I am the life.” There can be no fellowship with God, no righteousness that pleases Him, no good work He accepts, outside of Christ. Man without Christ must and does fail. At his best state man is altogether vanity. They that are in the flesh cannot please God. It is not a matter of trying harder. Try as hard has you can – without Christ – you will never overcome evil in a God pleasing way.
There is a new standard for righteousness now that Christ has appeared. The righteousness of Christ so outshines the righteousness of the law, that Paul declares: “even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.” (2 Corinthians 3:10) But such a height and depth, breath and length that encompasses the fullness of God cannot be realized unless Christ first dwells in our hearts by faith.
We need the eyes of our understanding opened to see both the hope of our calling and the riches of glory that works within us to make that calling a reality. The glory of every believer is found in nothing other than the fullest possible expression of Christ. It is to this end that Christ, the hope of glory, is in us. Apart from Him we can do nothing but fail. Apart from Him we will not only continue to sin, but we will continue to fall short of the glory of God.
God, in Christ, has positioned each believer to “henceforth” not serve sin, nor fall short of His glory. But we, like Paul, must be “after” this glory. Yes, the Christian is preeminently called to be like Christ. But being like Christ is not possible outside of both the resource of Christ in us and a consuming commitment to share in His life. To be filled with the fullness of God we must hunger and thirst, not after a lesser glory or a lower righteousness, but after the very glory and righteousness of Christ Himself. This is God’s destiny for His saints. This is why we pursue the fellowship of Christ.