One of the vital truths regarding our desire to follow Christ is to fully understand our union with Him. After all, we are invited to become one with Him and are described in Scripture as being "in Christ." In Romans 8 we are called “children of God” that are "adopted" into His family and are now "joint heirs with Christ." Romans 6 tells us our old man has died and Christ now lives in us in the Presence of the Holy Spirit. But do we really understand the implication of what this means?
Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology, states "Union with Christ is a phrase that summarizes several different relationships between believers and Christ, through which Christians receive every benefit of salvation. These relationships include the fact that (1) we are in Christ, (2) Christ is in us, (3) we are like Christ, and (4) we are with Christ." Ok, I've got that. But is there more to this union with Christ than dry theology? Can I really experience union with Him? And, if so, how is that done? What do I have to do to experience the fullness of my union, my relationship, with Christ?
Great questions. And the simple answer is, "Yes, you can know the wonder of our union with Him." And the wonder of it comes with the invitation of Christ to be joined with Him.
Consider the following invitation found in Matthew 11:28. It is a familiar passage:
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Now, let's see what it means by defining a few terms.
"Come to Me, all you who labor (to be worn out, fatigued, faint, weary) and are heavy laden (to overload, heavily burdened, like with the freight of a ship), and I will give you rest (to cease from labor, to refresh, relax, loosen, to be at peace or rest)."
Do you see the trust relationship implied in this invitation? Do you see Christ's invitation to let Him carry your troubles and you rest in Him? To be united in Him?
Many of us struggle with this and ask how is that accomplished? How can I truly experience rest in Him? Is it just a mental thing? Or is it some sort of resolution I make and then fail at when things get uncertain or tough? Is it a mantra I go over and over again in my mind, like "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can"? Or is it something else?
Oh, it is definitely something else. Let's look at the second invitation.
To Abide in Him
The second invitation reveals to us the "how" of our union and complete trust in Him. This invitation is found in John 15:4, and elsewhere in that chapter.
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me."
Note the two-fold relationship. One, I abide in Christ. And two, He abides in me. This is vital. And "abide" means, "to remain, dwell, live, to make one's home, to be united with one heart, mind, and will." So I "remain" and "make my home" in Christ, "to be united with one heart, mind, and will" with Him. And He will "remain" and "make His home" in me, "to be united with one heart, mind, and will" with Me. This is what it means to abide.
As you listen to this podcast in order to understand more of this marvelous relationship we have with the Lord, remember the following:
The branch (you and I) does not produce the fruit. That comes from the Vine (Christ). The branch does not secure the nutrients necessary to produce the fruit. That again comes from the Vine (Christ). The branch does not position the buds to get the most sunlight. The Vinedresser (Father) does that. The branch does not prune dead wood. Again, that is the Father's job. The branch does not provide water nor sunlight. The branch does not participate in harvesting. The branch (you and I) only bears the work of the Vine (Jesus) for the glory of the Vinedresser (the Father).
The key to all Christ has provided for us is found in a dependent, branch to vine, relationship with Him. He would not require from us what He has not equipped us to give. This kind of life is possible and provided for you and is the default position as a believer in Christ. But to experience the fullness of this relationship, we must surrender our petty desires to Him.
So, once again, the choice is ours. We can continue to live in lukewarm Laodicea satisfied with less than the abundant life Christ promised. Or we can jump into the deep end of the pool and surrender all to Him. It's not complicated. It's just hard. What do you want to do? The ball is in your court.
The following is a study on being Fully Surrendered to God from John 15.