Our In-Christness (Ephesians 1:1)

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1 ESV)

jametlene-reskp-87705_FotorThe Apostle Paul has a major theme, a point of teaching, that he stresses throughout His letters: It is the reality, if we are born-again in the Lord Jesus, of our union with Christ in His life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and session. We are united, identified with, Him. Paul speaks of this over 164 times in his letters; in the book of Ephesians, some 36 times!

One of the implications of this for us as believers is that there are two levels of experience we have, two realms, as it were, of which we are citizens, two perspectives from which we may view life. For us today, we are at a certain place on the map, a GPS point. In a real sense, that is where we are. At the present, I’m writing from the enclosed back porch at my dad’s house in Texas. I’m a citizen of the USA. I’m writing this devotional for our congregation in Australia and perhaps you’re reading this there. Maybe you’re reading this in another land. You’re in a place; you’re a citizen or resident of some country. But that particular identity alone cannot and must not be the sum of what we are. We are more than citizens of an earthly city or state or country. Bishop Handley Moule wrote the following of the opening statement in Colossians 1. I have taken the liberty of replacing “Colossae” with “Ephesus” —

“They moved about Ephesus ‘in Christ.’ They worked, served, kept the house, followed the business, met the neighbours, entered into their sorrows and joys, . . . suffered their abuse and insults when such things came all ‘in Christ.’ They carried about with them a private atmosphere, which was not of Asia but of heaven. To them Christ was the inner home, the dear invisible but real resting place. . .. And what a rich gain for poor Ephesus, that they, being in Him, were in it.”

It is the same with us. No matter where you are geographically and physically, what you are spiritually will never change. To paraphrase what one has said about this: You may be at work, at play, overseas, under the weather, out of money, but you are always and unchangeably in Christ! You may be down in the dumps, over the hill, or beside yourself, but you are always and unchangeably in Christ! You may be at paradise or in prison, at the cinema or on the Sunshine Coast, but you are always and unchangeably in Christ!

Your “in-Christness” is not simply a heavenly reality that exists only somewhere up there. It is here, there, and everywhere.

Our geographical, earthly, physical location has no effect or affect on our spiritual identity. In that sense, we are separated from the world. How the unbelieving world around us defines us has no bearing on our eternal identity. But the reverse is different. It is precisely because we are in Christ that wherever we live and work and play, we make an impact, we carry an influence, we make a difference. Our spiritual identity as one in Christ must control and characterise how we live, wherever we live. And remember: it is in this world that we are in Christ. You do not live in Christ only while you are at church or in class or in a care group, then to return to being simply in this world when you leave that more “holy atmosphere.” Your “in-Christness” is not simply a heavenly reality that exists only somewhere up there. It is here, there, and everywhere. Does that reality fill-up our thinking, our attitudes and choices, our words and actions?  My prayer is that we at Grace realise more and more our union with Christ and the many implications of that reality for us.

Blessings in Him,

John Butler