PREPARATION: lighting the candle and readying myself to listen.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Where do you live? Where do you call home? Is it in the United States? Perhaps in Canada? Are you one of our readers living in Australia, India, or China?
With this question of where you live, we are ready to explore yet more of the wondrous reality of Immanuel, God is with us. In today’s scripture the apostle Paul addresses Philippian Christians as “all the saints in Christ Jesus.” That is where believers live: “in Christ Jesus.”
You cannot read any of Paul’s letters and not be struck by repeated use of the words “in Christ.” It is a favorite of Paul, as he uses “in Christ” 34 times and “in Christ Jesus” 48 times in his letters. For Paul, this is where Christians live their lives, where they put down roots and feel at home: “in Christ.” Greek scholar Marvin Vincent has said a “Christian lives in Christ as a bird in the air, a fish in the water, the roots of a tree in the soil. What makes a Christian different is that he is always and everywhere conscious of the encircling presence of Jesus Christ.” (William Barclay quoting Greek scholar Marvin Vincent in The Letter to the Philippians) Christ has truly come to us as Immanuel!
“In Christ” is a two-word summary of what has happened in the life of every believer: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Being “in Christ” means having died with Christ to all sin and guilt (Romans 6:8), made alive with Christ in His resurrection (Ephesians 2:5). Being “in Christ” means we are joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), that we will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12), and that we will be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17). Being “in Christ” means being “inseparable from Christ”. (Markus Barth, Ephesians: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary on Chapters 1-3)
These compelling words, “in Christ”, are not metaphor or nice sentiment, but a fundamental reality, a true fact for every believer. It is living in oneness with Jesus similar to that oneness between God the Father and His only begotten Son, Jesus. Albert Schweitzer explained the meaning of “in Christ” like this: “I am in Christ; in him I know myself as a being raised above the sensuous, sinful and transient world and I already belong to the transcendent; in him I am assured of resurrection; in him I am a child of God.” (Albert Schweitzer, The Mysticism of the Apostle Paul)
Paul writes in today’s scripture to Christians “in Christ” while acknowledging that they “are in Philippi.” The Christian lives in two worlds, the world of resurrection life and grace, and the world in which we temporarily reside. Thus, Paul, though residing in a Roman prison, can write confidently to the Philippian Christians of what it means to live “in Christ”: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). By yielding ourselves to the life-giving power of Immanuel, we are transformed day by day into the image and likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), no matter where we reside!
CONVERSATION: I talk with God about the thoughts and feelings stirring within.
REST: I take time to be present to Immanuel who is present to me.