by Wayne Barber
In our last segment on the Purpose of the Church, we saw that the message that the church needs so desperately in our day is the message of Colossians 1:27: "To whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." The message of Christ in you is that which the church of Jesus Christ must understand and fulfill. We must see that this message is preached, that it is lived, and that it is never compromised.
Galatians 2:20 will help us fully understand Christ in us: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."
In this passage the first thing to notice is that Paul makes a proclamation: "I am crucified with Christ." Paul chose to die to the Law as a means of righteousness and to put his faith in Christ and therefore died with Christ. The words "crucified with" are sustaurˇo in the Greek, from sun, the intimate word for "with," and staurˇo, which is the word meaning "to crucify." To co-crucify. It is in the perfect passive. There is a book store in Reno, Nevada, that has a picture of Christ and in His arms is the man who held the hammer that nailed the nails-perfectly passive.
If we connect this with Galatians 2:19, Paul seems to be showing how the Law has no claim over him: "For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God." Paul is dead to the Law. In the next verse Paul states a paradox: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." Paul is saying that. Christ is now the essence of his life. Let me illustrate:
I have a suit that fits me. Now that's saying something when you are six feet seven inches tall. I walk into a store that is having a sale on clothes and when I get inside the door the salesperson just looks at me and shakes his head negatively, before I have even opened my mouth. They don't have my size. But when I find a coat that fits, wow! I'm excited!
This coat was destined to rot on its hanger unless someone came to redeem it from its predicament. I had to go to the coat. It couldn't come to me. Wouldn't that be nice if the coat could come to us. The door bell rings and you go to answer it and there standing on your front porch is a suit! It says, "I'm here! Put me on!" Well, that's ridiculous, I know, but the point is that I have to go get the coat. It couldn't come to me.
Also, I have to pay a price for that coat. It must be "redeemed." Now it is mine! I can command it to do anything I want. I own it. It has no rights. It has only the privileges I choose to give to it. I can say to it, "Coat sleeve, rise up and wave at folks to show how you love and appreciate me for what I've done for you! If you love me you will obey me!" But, the coat sleeve will only hang dormant. The law I put on it cannot produce what is demanded. But, if I get into the coat, then there is life in the coat. Now I can command the sleeve to rise up and it does-not because of the coat but because of the life in the coat. This is exactly what Paul says is the message of the church. We don't have a "religion," we have a "relationship." Christ lives in us to do through us what we could never do ourselves.
In the next segment we will discover how to appropriate this life that is now in us.
Wayne Barber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.toliveischrist.org.