Sunday was such a great day. I love and cherish my church family so, so much. It was just an "ordinary" Lord's Day, but with only 52 in a year, each one is special and to be treasured.
The sermon continued Romans 6 with verses 3 + 4. These verses are usually used in discussions on modes of baptism, but my pastor pointed out that Paul's purpose here is to draw attention to our unity with Christ.
I went through and labeled all the church outfit posts that have summaries of Romans sermons in case anyone wants to go through and read them. This post is number 25, wow. My summaries started out really short and now I enjoy this so much (and I think y'all do too) that they've gotten much longer. :)
Paul uses the phrase, "In Him" or "Into Christ" over and over in his writings in ways that Greek and Hebrew scholars have not found in other ancient texts. This terminology is unique to God's teachings. Ephesians 1:11, 1:13, 2:6, 2:10, are just a few verses with this phrase. Two main things to keep in mind about this doctrine:
I. We are united with Christ representatively. We talked about that in chapter 5 in relation to the picture of Adam and Christ.
II. We are united with Christ mystically. Don't let that word scare you. It simply means a spiritual truth that surpasses human comprehension because it transcends our understanding. It's so awesome, we can't figure it out.
The illustration my pastor used to help to explain this "into" meaning is that of an organ transplant. When an organ is taken from someone and placed into the patient, that organ becomes part of that patient. Part of the one body. Wherever the body goes, so goes the organ. When the body is sick, the organ suffers, and when the organ is struggling, it effects the whole body. Obviously this analogy breaks down at somepoint, but do you see how what was once outside the body can be placed into it and become one with it? This is sort of like our union with Christ. Couple points about it:
1) It is a spiritual union. But the spiritual is never in contrast to the physical-- that would be gnostic thinking. The spiritual and the physical are closely linked in the Bible, so we need to make sure we don't separate them. Instead, this spiritual union is in contrast to the fleshy, carnal desires of our old man. It's an operation of the Holy Spirit.
There is a deliberate connection between the literal and the metaphorical in the pictures God gives us throughout Scripture. He often uses the terms interchangeably and in the same passages so that we automatically associate one with the other. The body of Christ for example is a term used for the actual body of Christ that is seated at the right hand of God and the believers surrounding you in the pews on Sunday morning. We become one with His body when we are saved and baptized (although I believe it is majorly important that you be baptized, it is not required to go to heaven). This is why it is so important to be a member of a Bible-believing church. We are an "organ" in Christ's body, a member. Everything a believer experiences he does as part of the body. Not in isolation. What affects one member affects them all, in little ways, in big ways, in ways we may never know.
Something I found very convicting and inspiring is that because we are Christ's body and He is our head (we are also His bride and He is our head in that capacity too) who is seated with God, the only glimpse of Christ the world will have is of His body-- us-- who are still on this earth. This is why we are told to be Jesus to others; we are the only Jesus some will ever see. This works the other way too. Whatever the head experiences, the body experiences as well. That means we get all the benefits of communion with God! In Christ we have a spiritual union, but it includes our flesh and bones, which do the work of the Lord on this earth. If that realization doesn't give us purpose, I don't know what will!
2) It is a spiritual communion. Because we the body live in connection with the Head, when Christ died on the cross, we died too. When He was raised to newness of life, so we were given life. This totally demands a change in our nature, doesn't it? It also means that we get to commune in His work with Him. This reigning with Christ thing is not a prophesy or something in the future. This is right now. As I sit here half in PJ's with greasy hair and a desk so cluttered I can hardly type, I am reigning. We ought not to live any part of our lives not in the reality that we are with Him. We are there-- with God-- with Christ. But also here on this earth being the physical body of Christ. Kind of awesome.
3) We are united vitally. God uses a lot of pictures with organic entities. John 6 says it's not the mechanics of what we eat at the Lord's Supper, but the consequences of it. When we sup on the body and blood of Christ, we have Him as our sustenance. I don't discuss the Lord's Supper here much because there is such a hugely rich theology behind it that I don't want to screw it up in my relaying of the pictures/doctrines/meanings behind it, but here in talking about our union with Christ, I think it's important to note that just as the metaphorical and physical are often interchanged in Scripture to show us a truth, the Lord's Supper is a way of physically showing us that God will sustain us. When we symbolically (and actually, because Christ is there at His table) eat with God, it is a means of grace to us. Nourishment from the Lord. We get no where without His sustenance. I'm very thankful our church does weekly communion, because week after week after week, I am reminded that He is the life-giving bread.
There is a sense in which God only sees the Body through the Head, just as the world only sees the Head through the body, like I was saying. Remember the vine and branches analogy in John 15? We are grafted in to His vine-- we get our life from Him. Union with Christ involves a communion, an abiding, in Him. We can't just check-in with Jesus every couple months to make sure our life is on track and then continue on our way. This analogy implies a dependence on Him for our very lives.
4) We are united intimately with Christ. Marriage is the analogy here. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says we are joined to the Lord with one spirit, as a husband and wife should be joined. Ephesians 5 tells men to love their wives as their own bodies, just as Christ gave His life for His bride-- us!
5) We are united eternally in Christ. Before time, we were chosen by God. He accepts us no less than Christ. We need to know this, reckon it, and present this into our daily lives. That process we covered last week.
We are inseparably connected to Christ. We are flesh of flesh, bones of bones like Adam said of Eve. The eating of the Lord's Supper is made efficacious to us spiritually because we are united with Him. We can live victoriously! We eat and breath and have our being in Him. He has given us life and godliness and strength to do His purposes. May we live knowing we are one with His body.
"But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." ~ Ephesians 4:15-16.
Palm Sunday, but she switched out the color of the fedora and cardigan... and belt. :D
Why did I wear a skirt under the dress? Well, although this dress is long enough for modesty, it is an awkward length for flattering. Without the added length, the silhouette and eye-flow is choppy and I would look much shorter and more 90's. :)
Hat: Charming Charlie's: $5
Cardigan: Forever21: $8
Dress: JCPenny's, Olsenboye, $15, came with belt
Shoes: Payless: $10
Dress: Handmedown? Thrift store? I just got it and can't remember. :P
Blazer: Candie's: Handmedown.
Skirt: Mix Nauveu brand: Handmedown
Hat: Pamida: $3
Shoes: Emma's, Payless: $12?