7th July 2013

Visiting or Belonging?

 “All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”
Romans 8:14-15 (CEB) 

We Christians often say such things as “Jesus is in my life,” or “Jesus is my life.” But do we stop to ask ourselves what, exactly, do those expressions mean? There is a subtle, but vital distinction between Jesus being “in” our lives and Jesus “being” our lives. 

The typical understanding of the Christian religion is that it is a system of things to do and to believe, in order to receive eternal life. Although most Christians would agree that they are saved by grace, some think that they must then maintain their salvation through good works. It is as if Jesus ‘jump-starts’ them, but then it is up to them to ‘stay saved’. But, this misunderstanding completely misses the point about the nature of salvation and is not authentic Christianity. 

Authentic Christianity is not another religion. It’s about becoming who Jesus created us to be—not a matter of prioritising our life to make Jesus number one on our to-do list. The vital distinction is that he does not just come into our lives. Rather, he becomes our life. He has given us a new life in him. 

Rather than the emphasis being on our works, or what we do, this new life focuses us on our on-going fellowship and communion with God, in Christ, or who we are. We belong to Christ and have a bond that is far stronger than one based on “staying ahead of the game” through good works. 

I get a glimpse of this when I re-enter the United States after a trip abroad. At the airport there are two queues. One is for visitors, who have often had to go through a lengthy process to get their visas. The immigration officials are courteous, but they scrutinise every document and often conduct long interviews. It sometimes takes hours of anxious waiting and if everything is not 100 per cent in order, the hapless visitors may find they are denied entry. If they are allowed in, they have to be careful to obey all the conditions of their visitor’s visa. Sadly, that is the way many Christians feel about their relationship with God. 

As an American citizen, I do not have to go through all of that. The line for citizens moves much faster. The immigration officer quickly scans my passport and welcomes me home. I have no anxiety. I belong. That is the kind of relationship that God offers us. 

And of course, this is the kind of relationship all Christians yearn for. Because it sounds too good to be true, however, many of us pull back and accept a lesser form of relationship—one that depends on our good behaviour. But you don’t need to live as if you only have a conditional visa to the Kingdom of God. 

Prayer
“Our Father—Dad, thank you for reminding us that as far as you are concerned, thanks to Jesus’ redeeming work through his sacrifice and resurrection, we are full citizens in your family and kingdom. Truly, children of the Blood Royal! In Jesus’ name we thank you.
Amen
 

Study by Joseph Tkach

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joeandtammyAbout the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK.  For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

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