Welcome to Welling: for your spiritual well-being and your ministry overflowing. I, I, I, I. That’s the name of the series. It’s a great focus on the I, but it’s not on the prideful I, but the personal I. Four words. From Galatians 2:20 captures the essence, and the system, and the means for the spiritual life.
You know the whole verse by now. I have been crucified with Christ. Number one, I. Yet it is not I who lives. That’s a second I. Those two I’s have to do with the prideful egotistical I. But now, the latter part of the same sentence gives us four words: Christ lives in me. Those four words are the bridge between the prideful I and the personal I. Christ lives in me.
We said last time that the indwelling Christ uses a different funereal acronym. We say RIP to the old. Rest in peace. You may have heard of the lady who is learning English or at least applied it intentionally in a different way. As she welcomed her husband home saying, Darling, welcome home. And he said, I am so tired I can’t talk to you and she said, OK, rest in peace.
OK. That’s the law. Our relationship to the law. We let the law lie dead. RIP. But Christ lives in me. Talks about His residence in us through God’s spirit. The apostle Paul says we personally are the residence, the address of God.
But it’s also His influence in us. He’s slowly molding us, not in coercion, but persuading us, transforming us, which brings us to His presence. Residence, Influence, Presence. His active presence. How He operates in us. While we are in a responsive mode, He initiates. We cooperate because we are now co-crucified and we will live in a way that would please Him not trying to merit favor any more, not trying to be in control with our strong egos anymore, but living in a way that pleases Him because He lives in us.
I attempt to illustrate it by the marriage metaphor that the apostle Paul uses. Many commentators and theologians feel that the primary theme of the apostle Paul is our union with Him: Christ living in me and we are in Christ. So close.
That union can be maintained by good communion with Him, which provides the power for that union not to be dried up and in decline, but in dynamic, developing obedience to Christ. An overflow in transformation rather than a precondition for the transaction.
Bonnie and I have been married 44 years, as I make this little talk to you. Wherever I am in the world, there is a Bonnie in me, in residence, in influence, in presence, it’s spiritual. Bonnie in me even as I am in her. That’s exactly what the apostle Paul is saying here.
Not a mysticism. And I’m a little bit aware of Eastern mysticism where you are withdrawing from your personality or a denial of your personality, or an absorption of your personality, whereby you don’t have a subjective I, but it is a participatory identification in this relationship. Your personhood stays intact and Christ lives in you.
We’ve talked about all those things earlier both in terms of philosophy and theology. But in spiritual life, in spirituality, the law is over, RIP law. Residence, Influence, Presence Christ. You are now centered, powered, you are guided, you are motivated, not just by an external criteria but an internal empowerment.
And since you united in Him and with Him, this spiritual reality overflows into a social impact on others. That was a problem with the apostle Peter. He wanted to have a spiritual identity with Jesus but his social impact and social identity he wanted to maintain with the law, and Paul said, No that cannot happen. You’re in a complete new jurisdiction and a new administration with Christ living in us.
On what do we rest, on whom do we rest? Well, it is on the Christ who works in us. New jurisdiction, new administration, new empowerment, echoing what the Lord Jesus said in John 17, I in you and you in Me. Not just the environment that has changed, but the empowerment that is new. Christ Himself, He lives in me.
A marriage is a mystical union. You cannot fully explain it. I cannot rationally understand it. I know there’s an objective fact that on December 27, 1976, we were married, but there is a subjective dynamic. A union which is a mystery. Christ living in me. It’s not magic, it’s not mysticism, but it is a mystery with the result that you will please Him, hence the secret of our welling is His indwelling. You are now in a new novel.