What Does it Mean to be “In Christ?”

What does it mean to be “in Christ”? Perhaps you have heard that term from a sermon or you may have even read it in a Christian book. Some would say that it’s just another way to say we are placed into Christ when we are born again, and that’s true. The moment we placed our faith and trust in the risen Savior, and His finished work on the cross, we are placed into Christ. But “being in Christ” means so much more. The very essence of our Christian faith is vested in the fact that we are “in Christ”. So it is vitally important to know the fuller meaning of what it means to be “in Christ”.

Space will not permit me to list all the elements of being “in Christ”, so I want to address three of the more obvious benefits of “being in Christ”.

You take on a new identity – The moment you trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you become someone you have never been before. That’s the reason Jesus told the Pharisee Nicodemus that you must be “born again”. (John 3:1-14) You have passed from death unto life. Before you were a pawn of Satan and now you are a child of God. ( Ephesians 2) The old person you once were is gone and you are now a new creation in Christ. ( 2 Corinthians 5:17) We now have a new nature occupied by the Spirit of the living Christ. ( Colossians 1:27)

Why is that important to know? Our identity in life is now settled. Having our fundamental identity in Christ frees us from trying to develop our identity from our occupation, achievements, our spouse or our financial statement. We no longer have to strive to measure up to some sort of religious standard to receive God’s love. God loves us because we are family.

People of every culture have asked these three questions.
1. Who am I?
2. Why am I here?
3. Where am I going?

These questions are all answered with our new identity. We know who we are, a child of the living God who is grafted into the family of God. We know why we are here, to glorify God by allowing the life of Christ in us to be manifested to the world. We know where we are going, our home is now heaven and this life is our journey till we get home. The Scriptures tell us that we are “strangers and pilgrims” in this world. A stranger is not familiar with the territory and a pilgrim is just passing through.

Your dependency changes – Before being in Christ, you depended upon your own strength. As a result, sometimes you felt like you measured up and sometimes you felt like a failure. Your sense of security was in your performance. If you performed well in your spiritual walk you felt secure, but if you stumbled you felt like a failure.

God knows our dilemma of trying to measure up, so He alleviated that struggle by allowing us to rest in Him as enough. He tells us to “cast all your care on him for he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7) God also tells us not to “worry about anything but bring it to Him in prayer with a thankful heart and he will give us peace that passes all comprehension” (Philippians 4:6-8 – my paraphrase)

We don’t have to bear the burden, because He will do it all for us. God wired us to depend on Him. The more we carry the weight of our own burdens, the more unrest and misery will be part of our daily life.

You have a shift in your worldview“A worldview is the lens or glasses from which you view the world. Your worldview is the foundation for your values and your values are the foundation for your conduct. Your worldview is a collection of what you think about law, science, history, family, social issues, education, theology and ethics.” (Brannon Howse)

There are basically two worldview’s, a Biblical worldview and a secular worldview. Society gets their values from  one of two places, the culture or from Scripture. The secular worldview is driven by a “relative” mindset which believes that values change as the culture changes. The problem is that there are no absolutes, values are always changing, even to the point that wrong becomes right and right becomes wrong.

But for those who have been placed “in Christ” we have a different worldview. Our worldview is a Biblical worldview. A Biblical worldview is not based on the culture, or political correctness but on the absolutes of God’s Word. The lens we view life from is the Biblical perspective. If God said it, we believe and obey. Therefore, our worldview impacts our value system.

Bottom Line
Being “in Christ” is more than just another definition for being born again, it is much more. It gives us a new identity that is wrapped in God’s love and care. It allows us to never be alone in midst life’s problems. God not only knows all of our problems, but He is there to walk with us every step of the way. We have a stable worldview that gives us rest and peace. We never have to conform to societies values because we have a value system based on the absolute, never changing promises of God. He is not only our God, but He is also our “Abba/Papa” who draws us near. He cries and rejoices with us through every victory, and every trial, just because we are “IN CHRIST”.

Reflecting God’s Glory

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18).

We are a mirror-like reflection of God’s glory. He chooses to use us to reflect His glory and character. What is God like? Look at a committed follower of Jesus and you will get a glimpse of the nature of God.

Of course, none of us are sinless, but God’s intention is for us to be salt and light to the world by reflecting His divine nature. When we choose to forgive those who do us wrong, we reflect the glory of God. When we give of our resources to helping those in need, and help the orphans and feed the hungry, we reflect the nature of God. When we display humility and we are willing to hang out with those who have very little status, just because we want to be their friend, we display the character of God.

This type of behavior is not “normal”, but it sets us apart from the world. Our motivation stems from our new nature, not from the culture. This reflection of God’s glory is not derived from our personality type, but rather from the outflow of His imputed righteousness.

This is all part of God’s plan. That’s the reason God placed us “in Christ” when we became a believer. Matter of fact, the transaction was so complete that the scripture tells us that we are placed into Christ and “Christ is placed into us” (John 17:22-23). That means wherever we go God is there, because He is in us. And where He is, we are also. That’s the reason Paul could say “…we are seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). So you can see that God has equipped us to be a reflection of His glory.

How can we be sure that we are a continual reflection of His glory? We learn by abiding in Christ. (John 14 & 15). Abiding in Christ includes an acknowledgement of your absolute dependence and trust in God. It’s resting and trusting in the sufficiency of Christ. He is not only our Savior, but He is also the source of our identity. Our ability to show genuine love comes from Him.

Christ becomes our source of everything. We are no longer defined by our secular job, economic status, or our natural talent; but these things become an outlet to reflect the glory of God. It’s no longer what I do, but who I am in what I do, that reflects the glory of God. Therefore I can say, “whatever my hand finds doing, I will glorify God”.

Bottom Line
God created us to be a reflection of His glory. As the scripture denotes, God could have the rocks cry out, but He chooses to use His children to manifest His glory. The world is looking for a demonstration of God’s existence and power. As we fix our gaze on Christ, we can be transformed and then we become a key player in revealing Jesus to our world. Consider this prayer by Oswald Chambers.

“Oh Lord, I look to you so utterly that I am more than useless without you. Be made wisdom and discernment and understanding unto me today.” (My Utmost for His Highest)