Monday, 29 October 2012 16:35

Christ in You: The Hope of Glory

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I first heard this part of Colossians 1:27 “Christ in You…the hope of Glory”  in 1976 when Major Ian Thomas came all the way from England to teach at a small Baptist church in deep East Texas where my new husband and I were members.  We were used to a “visiting preacher” coming every year to preach a “revival”.  They usually held revivals in the springtime and this was no exception.  We were expecting someone to come tell us again how to “be saved” or that we needed to repent and turn from our sins.

  Most preachers who were invited to speak also threw in a few messages about dancing, drinking, and going with girls who do (or the equivalent).  And by the end of the week, for good measure, we were thoroughly shamed for not sharing the gospel with our family, friends, and neighbors. Oh yes!  I think we were also supposed to invite our friends to the services so they could hear the same. Misery loves company, right?  For some reason, not a lot of folks enjoyed this routine but we did it every year.

In April, 1976, as dutiful church members, we lined up in the pews for our annual tongue lashing.  What a surprise God had planned for us this spring!

Our pastor’s son had gone to England to study the Bible soon after high school at Major Thomas’  Capernwray  Torchbearer Bible School.  I guess it was at his suggestion that we had Major Thomas come to our church when he was visiting the United States.  His message was more like this. “Jesus has already done all that needs to be done to satisfy God’s wrath and has placed His robe of righteousness around your shoulders.  You no longer have to pay God for your sins or acts of omission.  When Jesus said It is Finished, He meant finished. “ Wow!  To a young wife and mother that had felt like she had to perform all her life, that was good news!   This was a message that I could get excited about and invite my friends to hear.

But even better news, and what his book “The Saving Life of Christ” is all about is that now, Jesus lives in you personally, through the Person of the Holy Spirit.  Everything that God is asking you to do can be done in His power and strength.  You can relax and enjoy your Christian life and quit trying so hard.

What does it mean that you have Christ in you?  Can one really “invite Him to live in your heart?” What exactly happens when you repent and give your life to God?   In John 14:18-20, Jesus promised his disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans.  I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.  Because I live you also will live.  On that day, you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me, and I am in you.” Do we yet realize that Christ is really and truly IN us?

Paul wrote to the Colossians in chapter 1, verse 25-27, and said,”I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness- the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.  To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

It sounds good in theory but how does this play out in real life?  That is always the hard part.  Over the last few years, I have been in many situations that were over my head.  Too hard to know what to say,  much less  to know what to do.  But I have noticed that if I can let go of my agenda, stop and pray and confess my need for Him and His help, then He shows up.  Sometimes He comes as the Teacher, and teaches through me.  Sometimes, He is the Comforter, just when comfort is needed most.  I have seen Him advocate for me and use me as an advocate for others.  Sometimes He is my Wonderful Counselor but also counsels others through me.   Often He and the Holy Spirit act as the Intercessor through me.  Some days He meets spiritual needs, others very practical physical ones like food, clothes, or clean feet and a cup of water. 

I think that the reason most of us don’t experience the life of Christ in us and through us more is that we are unwilling to put ourselves far enough outside of our comfort zone that He has to come through or we fall flat on our face.  We stay safely in our homes, churches, and religious genres so that we don’t need Him.  We only say yes to the things we feel comfortable doing, knowing we have education, experience, or money to get us out of any tight spot we encounter. 

Jesus seemed to live a life of adventure, totally dependent on His Father.   Jesus told Phillip in John 14: 9-10, "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?  Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”  If that were happening in my life every day, it is likely that I would not desire entertainment or “fulfillment” quite so readily. 

Later in John 17: 25-26, Jesus prayed for us and said, "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."  

In his own words, Major Thomas said it this way, "As a young evangelist, my love and enthusiasm for Christ as my Savior kept me very, very busy until out of sheer frustration, I finally came to the point of quitting. That was the turning point which transformed my Christian life. In my despair I discovered that the Lord Jesus gave Himself FOR me, so that raised from the dead He might give Himself TO me, He who IS the Christian Life.  Instead of pleading for help I began to thank Him for all that He wanted to be, sharing His Life with me every moment of every day. I learned to say “Lord Jesus, I can’t, YOU never said I could; but YOU can, and always said YOU would. That is all I need to know”.   From that moment life became the adventure that God always intended it to be. That was the beginning of Torchbearers, and this continues to be the main thrust of our ministry around the world the - Saving Life of Christ.”

Every time I do the same, I see Him work in ways I cannot imagine.  I am trying very hard to learn to NOT have self-confidence, but God-confidence.  I can’t save myself, change myself, or better myself.  When I try to do those things, I end up in a mess of pride and deception.  As I allow Him to live His life through me, I experience peace, joy, and the fruit that I was trying to produce in the first place.                 

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Kathy Haecker

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