I enjoyed fellowship this past Sunday at church. I was sitting next to a good friend. After the sermon, I asked him what he found helpful in the sermon. This is a new practice I have adopted. I want to increasingly speak to people sitting next to me about what I just heard before turning to world matters.
I believe this is important for three reasons. First, I want to see if I missed an angle in the sermon that my friend may have picked up. I am also keen to hear, as a preacher, how certain truths were understood. Secondly, it allows me to hear how God is working in his life. Thirdly, it allows me to share any challenges I have with another Christian and how that scripture spoke to them.
I wont say what my friend shared, but it was very good and encouraging. But here is what I shared with him as we spoke. The sermon came from this verse:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3 ESV)
The preacher reminded us that the thrust of Paul's statement is that we have a lot to praise God for. First, we can praise God for who is. He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, we can praise God what he has done for us!
It is during the second part where the Preacher made a piercing statement that made me pause. He said that Paul is reminding us here that "we have everything we need in Christ". Or as Paul puts it we have "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places".
I sat there thinking, what a revolutionary statement : I have everything I need in Christ! This is certainly encouraging, but also worrying! The problem is that I can say "I have everything I need in Christ", but do I actually believe this? Do I live my life consistent with the truth that "I have everything I need in Christ"?
The simple answer is no. And if I am terribly honest, it is not easy to actually believe and practice this truth for many Christians. I know this is controversial but I fear too often we forget just how revolutionary the gospel is. We forget that it makes statements that are ground breaking! And sometimes we assume it is straightforward.
My point is that it is genuinely hard to believe that you have everything in Christ when you are jobless and desperately seeking for work. I don't care how long you have walked with Christ. You will find it difficult!
It is hard to believe that you have everything you need when your spouse has just walked out on you after 10 or 20 years of commitment. You may be the saint of the local town but that is hard!
It is hard to believe that you have everything in Christ when your loved one is terminally ill. It is hard to believe you have everything in Christ when you are failing interview after interview. It is hard to believe you have everything you need when your President is Assad and you are surrounded by Islamists. And the list goes on!
The truth is potentially easier to accept when you are at the top and God answers every prayer you pray, especially if the latest answer is for a bumper pay rise! But even there, I wonder! How long will it last?
With every material blessing comes more dicontentment for me. Ours is an existence that screams for more and more! So even for Christians blessed with 4 vehicles, a well paid mortage, children who can recite the Bible in Arabic, Spanish and French, it is perhaps even harder to believe "I have everything I need in Christ".
But imagine if you believed and practised this truth. What would it look like? What would knowing you have everything in Christ look like on a daily basis?
Knowing you have everything in Christ changes how we eat! Lol! Seriously, it means that we don't eat to satisfy every appetite, we eat as people already full with Christ. I use that example because it closer to home!
Knowing you have everything in Christ changes how we write on social media. It means that we are not writing for approval or to be noticed. We write as people already blessed by God. You write now as an expression of how God is at work in your life.
Knowing you have everything in Christ changes how you hunt for a new job! Yes, you may feel that you have not yet arrived at your ideal area of vocation. But this verse says that Jesus has blessed you with himself. You have everything. So you hunt for a job because you want to be a channel of his blessing already in your life for other.
Knowing you have everything in Christ changes how you relate to people who have caused you hurt! You see because you have Christ in your life, your love is now joined to eternal love of God shared between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Your love is now big enough to forgive. You no longer seek vengeance because you have enough from circle of God's love.
I can go and add some more. But the point is surely clear. This truth is revolutionary. It is also impossible to live it out by human effort. And as I look at my own life, I see little evidence of living it out.
In short, it is a thought worth meditating on time and time again. And this week I will be praying that God makes it possible for me to really live in light of this earth shaking truth : I have everything I need in Christ.
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013