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In Christ

My handwriting is bad. So bad, in fact, that even doctors—infamous for the unintelligible scribbles—look at my handwriting and say, “What did you write?”

With that mea culpa (or if you prefer, “my bad”) out of the way, we can continue.

Every year at our church in Houghton, up to three college students reside in our campus house—rent-free. They are expected to be active in our campus ministry and also serve as custodians. But since students often struggle to rub two nickels together, we don’t expect them to buy supplies out of their own pocket. Instead, we post checklists for the supplies. Then another volunteer makes the purchases.

For some time, I was the volunteer who purchased the items. After purchasing, I’d cross the item off the list and jot the note “in closet.” Then our congregation decided that the pastor’s time could be better used, so a capable member of the congregation took over the purchasing.

After a while, I thought I’d check the list to see how things were going. The volunteer was much prompter with the purchasing. Items were neatly crossed off the list. But the note next to each purchased item puzzled me. It said, “In Christ.” After I asked the volunteer about this, she said, “I thought that’s what you wrote!”

Those two little words, “in Christ,” not only define us but also direct us.

Maybe I should have. For don’t those two words, “in Christ,” define us as Christians?

The apostle Paul certainly thought so. That’s why he could assure the Corinthian believers, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. The new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When God’s Spirit brought us to faith, he wrapped us in Christ and gave us our Savior’s purity, selflessness, and devotion. Now when our Father looks at us, it’s as if he sees us wearing white robes that bear the divine-manufacturing tag “In Christ.”

This gracious gift brings us peace, because “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

This brings us confidence, because “neither death nor life, neither angels nor rulers, neither things present nor things to come, nor powerful forces, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39).

This brings us hope, because we know our God will supply our every need, “according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

This binds us together even when a pandemic threatens to rip us apart, because “though we are many, we are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5).

Those two little words, “in Christ,” not only define us but also direct us. Paul explains, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

As God’s child, whether I’m signing a get-well letter for a friend, purchasing items for church, or crossing off items on a checklist, I can do it all “in Christ.” Because by God’s pure grace, I am “in Christ.”

And so are you.

The Scripture references used in this article are from the Evangelical Heritage Version.

Author: Glenn L. Schwanke
Volume 108, Number 2
Issue: February 2021

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