Thought For The Week
THE 'IN-CHRIST' PRINCIPLE - 2
Because the New Testament teaches that all those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are 'in Christ' this truth is at the same time a guiding principle putting boundaries around how we should relate to one another.
All one in Christ Jesus
The New Testament teaches us that 'in Christ':
All believers are equally justified – equally acquitted of guilt by God, the just judge. There is no legal difference between any believer and another. All are equally guilty in themselves; all equally acquitted in Christ [Romans 3:22-24].
Because this justification [legal acquittal] is not on the basis of our own work or merit, all boasting is outlawed. No one can say they have been acquitted by God because of their own lack of personal guilt or because of some laws or commandments they have obeyed. All have only one claim – faith in Jesus Christ [Romans 3:27; 1Corinthians 1:30,31; Ephesians 2:8,9].
Because we know that in the presence of God we are justified solely by the death of Christ, we should not impose on another believer the keeping of law for acceptance either by God or by us [Galatians 2:11-16].
Every believer is ‘clothed’ with Christ. This common ‘clothing’ eliminates all claims to racial, social, or sexual supremacy or priority. The same faith makes us all equally the children of God – we are ‘all one in Christ Jesus’. No one gets ‘first place’ or ‘last place’ because of factors of birth [Galatians 3:26-29; Colossians 3:11].
The removal of interpersonal barriers
The Jew-Gentile division exemplified separation between people. As we have just seen, the Gospel removes this, and all other divisions. Paul speaks further of this removal of interpersonal divisions and barriers in Ephesians 2.
In Ephesians 2:11-22 Paul teaches about the unity, peace and common identity that the Gospel of Christ established between Jews and Gentiles who believe:
2.14 - Christ, our peace, has destroyed the barrier that previously divided us.
2.15 - Christ has created 'one new man' out of previously antagonistic people, thus making peace.
2:18 - through Christ we all have the same access to the Father.
2:19 - we are all members of God's household.
2:21-22 - we are all God's holy temple indwelt by God's Spirit.
God, in Christ has removed the barriers that separate people from each other, and given us a common identity and a common heritage in Christ. Yet we, in our pettiness, try to keep and even erect barriers, by looking at people as they are in themselves, and at ourselves, as we are in ourselves. We jeopardize and short-circuit the peace and unity that the ‘in Christ’ concept establishes. And in doing so we are acting at odds with the gospel.
Christ, in his prayer to his Father in John 17, longed for this unity to be expressed and evident among those who follow him. It is not the unity of sameness, but the unity of grace and acceptance, grounded not in anything we are or do, but in who Christ is and what he did.
© Rosemary Bardsley 2016