Wednesday, August 27, 2014

IN Christ... what does that even mean?

IN Christ
Pastor Ryan Freeman
Payson Christian Church

Hook: Storms

Colossians 2:6-19 Message
From the Shadows to the Substance
6-7 My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
8-10 Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.
11-15 Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It’s not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you’re already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. If it’s an initiation ritual you’re after, you’ve already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.
16-17 So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ.
18-19 Don’t tolerate people who try to run your life, ordering you to bow and scrape, insisting that you join their obsession with angels and that you seek out visions. They’re a lot of hot air, that’s all they are. They’re completely out of touch with the source of life, Christ, who puts us together in one piece, whose very breath and blood flow through us. He is the Head and we are the body. We can grow up healthy in God only as he nourishes us.

What does it mean 'to be in Christ'?
Paul (or Tim) says it all the time- Jesus talks about being 'in God'... what does this even mean?

I have a hard time imagining it, myself. Earlier this last week, I missed one of my most favorite events in the whole world (and no, it wasn't the new Dr. Who season...)... Monday, I helped someone move to Nebraska- and while it was hot and arid out west, here... sometime in the morning, we had a thunderstorm. It's one of my most favorite things to slowly wake up to the sounds of a storm. At first it's usually that low, rolling tremor of thunder- or the steady drumming of rain on your window. Or maybe it's even the feel of the wind outside creaking the wooden frames of your house... however the case... it's my favorite thing.

And I think it’s my favorite thing because when it happens, you're in it. Cozy underneath your sheets- there is an ambiance or a vibe- a something which paints the moment with its own unique feel. You are in a storm all around you. To my best understanding, being 'in Christ' is like being in the best sort of storm. It embraces you with its own personality. The dark shadows play across the floor through the rain-splattered windows. When you’re 'in' something, you are one with it. You don't just have a place, you are in place. It's easy to say, but wait- this doesn't make sense, what am I doing? That's just the trick- Jesus does this, making you one with him. There is no thinking or logicing just how or what or why things must be a certain way. There is no worrying about how good or not good you are- how well so and so thinks of you or whether that dress looks good on you. It simply is. You simply are. It's like being with someone who you love after a long while, and sharing unspoken conversations just with a bare flick of the eye or nod of the head. A touch. A smirk. A whisper.

We often use poetic expression because we are touching realms which elude common expression. The inconceivable. The wonder-full.

Have you ever tried to imagine what the 'end game' of Christianity might look like. How do things go, how must things be once the lights are flicked off of the whole history of the tired world and every last prophecy is fulfilled down to the last timely, holy sneeze? Lots of people through the ages have worked tirelessly try to figure this all out. Just try and guess how many trees have died for theology... I think it's funny when someone thinks they've 'figured it all out finally'... every now and again you see someone pick a date for the end. Bomb shelters are built. Walmarts have sudden record spurts for the kind of goods only die-heart survivalists usually go in for... while the rest of us wait for the inevitable fallout. I think one of the biggest reasons why people try and figure it all out is because they think the Bible or Christianity is some sort of master sudoku, just waiting to be puzzled all out. We crave a guarantee on safety and security. It's why we have life insurance and make sure our cars are covered. I think Jesus knows this. And he also knows that only actual caliber of safety and security we need is being IN Him. And I think this is exactly where Jesus is radically different from all that. Just try getting relationship insurance. Ever tried changing the emotional oil of your spouse? Or replaced a balding head like you would tires? Or trading in the one you’re married to for a long time for someone new? It typically isn't done. You don't do it. People like you and I don't work like that.

You don't 'figure out' Jesus. You have a relationship with him. When certain people are regularly around long enough, they usually begin to have a dynamic influence over and through your own life. Other people rub off on you. Ever since I worked at Ayerco, I can’t really stop slurring my words.
Thanks Quincy...

You adopt character this way. Or not.

There are a lot of ways people do Christianity. According to the internet's most viable source, Wikipedia, there are over 41,000 different denominations across the planet.

Jesus is the sort of guy who, if you spent any amount of time around, you can’t help but have him rub off on you. Who God is is infectious. When you’re in a storm all around, it’s the closest thing I can think of to being IN Jesus, too. You are hidden in him. Your identity is lost in his. The two become one. There is less thinking and more being.

So, when others try to sell you on a new way to figure it all out- when others impose a certain way of doing things- when the apocalypse is nigh, whether it be sign-wielding street preachers or subtle cultural power-coops... remember Jesus isn't there, either. That tomb is empty. A lot of times what people try so desperately to persuade you of are actually only speaking whatever comes out of their own deepest fears.

I love near the end of this section, where Paul (or Timothy) says in verse 17:
"These are a shadow of the things that were to come, the reality, however, is found IN CHRIST."

When you close your eyes for the last time, and open your real eyes for the first time, the closest, most poetic expression God uses to describe what it will be like is a wedding and a feast. Some of us recently attended weddings, or can remember our own... it really, truly is something like that.
The reality is IN Christ.
Like the best feast.
Like the happiest wedding.
Like the coziest storm.

Like what you read? Join in with your own insights, stories and art- send them to Thanks and God bless -Ryan

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