Our Connection with Christ
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
As I searched the Scriptures for what to write today, I thumbed through the book of Ephesians. I found this: “In him, you also…were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (1:13), “for through him we…have access in one Spirit to the Father” (2:18), “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (3:17), “to be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (4:23). For what I want to articulate, Paul’s words felt like a good shot that settles on the edge of the green, but then John’s words rolled right into the cup of my heart.
I have been preparing for a speaking engagement where I have been asked to share about identity in Christ and a sports chaplain’s role in our culture of sports. To be honest, I really don’t like the word identity. It has been (and still is) both a thorn and a hope in my faith journey, especially during my playing days as a collegiate and professional golfer. Sadly, for a long time, stating that my identity was in Christ was merely an outward proclamation, while my heart suffocated under a shame-based performance reality due to unprocessed trauma.
I believed in my head that my identity was in Jesus. I put on a believable mask when asked to share my testimony. It was an external relationship with Jesus because I also believed that if I claimed my identity was in Christ, then it would be blasphemy to also admit I was filled with shame and brokenness.
I am grateful for how Jesus continues to woo my heart through the many seasons of life. Earlier this month, a friend gave me Union with Christ, by Rankin Wilbourne, as a resource for my speaking event. I trust this man and was curious to start reading.
Wilbourne uses the word union instead of identity to open our understanding of our relationship with Jesus. According to vocabulary.com, a union is things coming together, or uniting, to make one. While identity signifies that we belong to Jesus, union reflects that we are one with Jesus. I can say that I belong to Jesus (identity), but it’s easy for knowledge alone of this truth to get stuck in my head. Deepening my understanding that I have union with Christ opens the door for my heart to experience the fullness of Jesus’ love.
Wilbourne writes, “Union with Christ displaces us from the center of our own lives. It tells us we can discover who God created us to be only through living in vital union with his Son. It tells us the work of Christ for us cannot be separated from the person of Christ in us. Otherwise, we run the risk of loving his benefits more than we love the Benefactor.”
Our identity in Christ is secure when we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. Our union with Christ is an ongoing, deepening love relationship. Will you join me in choosing to abide in him so that he can abide in us? Apart from this we can do nothing.
January 31, 2019
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