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Sunday, 4 May 2014

Christ in you!

A good morning at L'Église Evangelique Libre (Free Evangelical Church) in Bergerac.  This was my first invitation to bring the Word to the fellowship and I was, to say the least, just a little bit nervous.  However, by the time I had made a few introductory comments, and prayed, in French, I was feeling a bit better!  The message was then preached in the English language, with Lucie Bardiau translating.

We looked at just three words from Paul's letter to the early disciples in Jesus in Colossae.  They are found in the first chapter, and the twenty-seventh verse: "Christ in you".  That is, of course, a very succinct description of a Christian!   We were reminded that the whole of the Christian experience has to do with the life that Christ begins in an individual.  This involves an enslavement to sin; to society; to the satan himself; that Jesus wants to break.  However, there is also an enrichment that He wants to bring - "I have come that they may have life - in all its fulness." (Jn.10:10).  
There is also a love that the Lord want to beget in us.  Part of the wonder of the Christian life is that the Christ seeks, not only to enter our lives, but also to act in them!   Conversion is, in itself, just a beginning; a 'first step'.  Marriage is a good analogy.  When, all of those years ago, my fiancée and I took our marriage vows, we became, in the sight of God, husband and wife.  However, that wasn't, and isn't, all that there is to marriage.  Over the years, we have been drawn ever closer to one another, as we have shared our lives, and so many experiences.  It's the same when we invite Jesus into our lives.  As we share all that we are, and have, with Him, we are drawn ever closer to Him, in an ever-deepening love.

This relationship brings a correction to our thinking.  We discover that true happiness lies, not on what we get, but in what we give.  Paul shares an otherwise unrecorded saying of Jesus: "Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving." (Acts 20:35, NEB).   Of course, there is also a compulsion that this love - this agape love - brings to our living.  It compels us to live in a certain way.  "The very spring of our actions [what gives them power] is the love of Christ." (II Cor.5:14).

One more thing is involved if we would have Christ in us, and that concerns the Lord He wants to become in us.  This, of course, is why more people do not become His disciples - they do not want to surrender control of their lives to Him!  Yet that is His condition!  There is a control that He would assume.  He comes in as the invited Guest; He must be acknowledged as the undisputed Host.  However, there is also a consent He must await.  As Sovereign Lord of the universe, He could force us to be His obedient subjects.  But He will not take over my life - or yours - without our consent, and invitation.

As fallen human beings, we will fall; we will fail; we will let Him down.  But if we have made that initial commitment to Him, He will help us to grow more like Him.  How do we do so?  By confessing that we are sinners on the sight of Almighty God; by repenting of our sin - turning away from it, and turning towards Jesus; by trusting that He is both willing, and able, to save us.  It's a life-changing decision - but it's one you will never regret, however difficult the way may be.

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