His Very Own People ~ Part 2
On the night before Jesus died He prayed for you and me. “My prayer is not for them alone (the apostles). I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe you sent me.” (John 17:20-21)
When we put our faith in Christ and begin to center our lives on Him something profoundly transformational happens. Paul puts it like this in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me.” Christ lives in us! In the New Testament believers are said to be “in him,” or “in Christ,” nearly 200 times. Theologians call this relationship the Mystical Union.
The Mystical Union between Christ and His followers has significant implications for us. One very important one is this: We are in Him, He is in us, and He makes us one together. Nothing like this ever existed before Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit; you won’t find it in the Old Testament. We now have the Spirit in us and He ties us to the Father and the Son and to one another. Pentecost marked the birth of the Church of Jesus Christ.
“We are in Him, He is in us, and He makes us one together.”
Paul was profoundly impacted by this reality. He understood that Jesus and the Church were one together. He wrote in Romans 12:5, “so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” A commitment to Jesus is a commitment to the Body of Christ, His Church. Where did we ever get the idea we could be committed to Jesus but not be a part of His Church? You can’t stay connected to Jesus and not be connected to His Body. You can’t have intimacy with Christ and dabble at church.
Belonging is at the heart of being a people. The idea of someone being a believer and not being a part of a local congregation is foreign to the New Testament. In the New Testament you knew where you belonged. You were in the church of Corinth, or Thessalonica, or Ephesus, etc. You belonged to a local expression of God’s people. All of the New Testament letters are addressed either to local congregations or leaders of local congregations.
When you get Jesus, you get me and all those who follow Christ. That is the Mystical Union. We are partakers of the Blessed Community that exists among the Father, Son and Spirit. We are “in Christ.” We belong to Him and to each other, a people of His very own.