June 12, 2013

Christ in me, the hope of glory

When I rode my spirited horse alone, I took risks and pushed the horse to its limits. When I had a child on with me, everything changed. I was still brave and full of daring, but the presence of someone else made a difference.

Today’s devotional is about suffering and the difference made by the presence of Someone else. It is also an affirmation of Jesus’ words, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Jesus promised to be with His people forever. It isn’t just that He is standing nearby to share our lives with us — His presence goes beyond that…

But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

This indwelling presence ensures a great deal. He grants us His holiness, wisdom, strength. Because Jesus lives in me (and He said this is a forever thing), I cannot be separated from His love.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:35–37)

God did not set the world in motion and then stand back to watch what we would do with it. He is involved. If the cross of Jesus Christ says nothing else, it shows that God incarnate knows about suffering, even willingly entered our world to embrace it — that we might have the eternal life He offers.

God does not always let us know why we suffer, but Christians know that, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Psalm 23:4) How different is suffering for those who know not just that God knows and sympathizes, but also that He dwells in them. That means everything I suffer, He suffers with me. My pain is His pain. I ought never moan or complain. Any accusations I make ought to be silenced before the agony of my God.

There is good news in this too. Because God shares my suffering, I also share His redemptive activity. For this to happen, I must yield to Him. This tells me my victory in suffering also comes by yielding to Him. I might not understand the why of my sorrows, but I can yield and trust, realizing that the mysteries of God are never revealed or discovered through raising my fist at Him.

Paul discovered that God’s strength is perfected in weakness. That is, if I’m going to be tough, determined, aggressive, then the One who lives in me waits quietly, letting me have my way, but remaining unseen and inactive. However, when I am weak, without ability, and yielded, He is freed to work in me. His life can shine in mine. This is why Paul also said, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

That Christ is in me also ought to affect the way I live. In my prideful and sinful self, I have taken the indwelling Christ to places that are shameful instead of letting Him lead me into places of righteousness, holy places. It is one thing to be glad that He shares my pain and gives me grace to bear it, but quite another to take Him down the dark alleys of my life.

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