Do you remember the last time you entered into a new, satisfying relationship?
Maybe it was a new friend who wasn’t fake or flakey extending unearned love and loyalty to the real you.
We long for a reciprocal rootedness with and in another.
Maybe it was when a new child or grandchild entered into your life like a seed initially tossed onto your soul. Their beautiful eyes or smile secretly whispered to that seed to send out roots and plant new life into the soil of your heart.
Maybe it was a new series on Netflix where the characters and storyline entered into your own story and gave you pure pleasure as it soothed your hidden pain and seemed to make sense of your suffering.
Union with Christ (or being “in Christ” cf Romans 6:11) has been a central description of Christian identity, significance and mission as those who trust Christ enter into the life of His salvation and grace.
Have you ever heard of Union theology?
I grew up thinking that I was supposed to live up to religious expectations in order to gain acceptance by God and always felt like a failure for not measuring up.
One of the greatest hurdles to my faith has not been the things that I know or even don’t know.
Instead it’s the things I think I know but I’m wrong about.
Union theology (living INTO Christ) challenges us all to stop trying to live up to the high and holy standards of our good God-in our own strength-and instead live into the accomplished life, death, resurrection and mission of Jesus.
We are to live into Jesus.
This is really good news!
It means we can stop living for an identity and live from an identity freely given to us by God in Christ!
A famous pastor from France, John Calvin called Union theology “the sum of the gospel…where the newness of life and free reconciliation are conferred on us by Christ.”
Calvin wrote thousands of pages of theology and yet called union with Christ the sum of the gospel.
How would you sum up the gospel or good news about reality?
Burk Parsons, pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel, summed up the gospel by calling it
“The good news about what our truine God has graciously accomplished for His people: The Father’s sending the Son Jesus Christ God incarnate, to live perfectly, fulfill the law, and die sacrificially, atoning for our sins, satisfying God’s wrath against us that we might not face an eternal hell, and raising Him from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the victorious announcement that God saves sinners.”
True and what a mouthful!
The apostle Paul (an early Christian leader and teacher) used the two simple words “in Christ” over and over to expose and explain how a sinner enters into a rich relationship with a good and perfect God.
My favorite words from Paul about union theology are found in a short letter he wrote to some friends:
Philippians 3:8-9 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
What if instead of being ultimately into our work, entertainment, relationships, goals, bodies, comforts and causes we lived into the identity, mission and ministry of Christ?
We would finally know who we were, where we were headed, what we were here for and what we should ultimately hope for.
What if the very life of God in Christ and through His Spirit began to swirl, whirl, curl and unfurl in your life?
Wouldn’t we stop seeing others as obstacles to our plots and projects and instead begin to indwell their lives with the love and life of God?
What if being into Christ had the intended consequence of an overflowing other-centeredness where hospitality, invitation, welcome, forgiveness, laughter, and companionship finally found a home in mutual togetherness?
What are you into?
Who are you really into?
Metro North Church