Dwelling in Christ
In the hustle and bustle of the lead-up to Christmas, how do I see myself? Am I defined by the social gatherings I attend? How do I feel if I consider how much I have changed (or not) since last year's Christmas gathering or Christmas card? Should I forge a “New Year, New You”?
Who am I? We might not consciously pause to ask such a deep question, but for many it's a niggling thought bubbling under the surface. I've had the privilege over the last few months of being reminded through several different contexts of my identity as “in Christ”. My deepest identity is that I am loved and adopted into God's family through Jesus Christ, securely and for eternity.
At the City Church women's retreat recently, we thought about what it means to be women and men made in the image of God, living out our differences in the body of Christ as equals, in the roles God designed for us, yet with a profound unity in Christ Jesus. What an encouragement to remember that if we are in Christ Jesus, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Yes, God has made us in His image as male or female, but our deeper identity is in Christ Jesus.
Nevertheless, for many, deciding their own identity, perhaps guided by their gender, sexuality, career or ourward appearance is a burden as they navigate our cultural expectation of finding who we are from within, from our feelings. At a recent Gafcon Ireland residential, we were encouraged that the Anglican liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer was designed to remove such burdens from us, and instead to move our hearts by the good news of God's love for us, to see our security in Christ. We don't need to create our own identity – rather, the Comfortable Words of the Holy Communion service include that “in Christ”, we have a mediator and propitiation for our sins. What more comfort and security do we need than Jesus' words “Come to me all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)?
But how do we live out our identity “In Christ”? The annual Dublin Women's Convention in October addressed this very issue. We were encouraged not to ask “Who am I?”, but to ask “Who am I in Christ?” From Ephesians, over 200 women from churches across Dublin were reminded through seminars, small group conversations and main talks of what it means to live out our “Identity in Christ”. We ought to pray to know Christ more, to know the hope to which he has called us, and to know His incomparably great power towards us who believe. As we know Christ and His love more, through His Word and His body, the church, with the Spirit's strength, we live radically different lives from those around us, walking as children of light.
May God give us grace to be comforted by our identity “in Christ” and to shine as lights for him in a dark world, as we proclaim, both at Christmas and throughout the coming year, the True Light that came into our darkness.