Word of the Month

Jesus Christ in us

March 2012

Apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossians contains a passage that, in very concise terms, describes our goal, how our life of faith is to be defined, and how the two belong together: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1: 27). The epistle makes it very clear that this is a mystery: Christ in us! This mystery has two aspects: on the one hand, it is a gift of the Lord’s grace that He enters into our hearts. This is something we cannot earn. It is grace. This grace shows itself concretely in the fact that we have been reborn out of water and the Spirit. That is the beginning of “Christ in you”. At this point, Christ has entered into the soul. In Holy Communion, this “Christ in you” is reinforced, as this sacrament constitutes our direct fellowship with Christ. Thus on the one hand, this is a gift of God’s grace. On the other hand however, it also represents a task and an obligation for us all. “Christ in you” means that Christ must rule over us. To have Christ in us means that we must live, act, speak, and even think as Christ has demonstrated for us. Although we can never compare ourselves to the Lord, we nevertheless need to grow into the nature of Christ more and more.

One of the things that stand out about Christ is that He always looked up to His Father. Already as a twelve-year-old in the temple, He said: “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2: 49). “Christ in us” implies that we take our direction from the Lord and look up to Him.

Christ always acted in such a fashion as to be there for others. He was full of compassion and willing to help. Jesus helped whenever He saw that there was genuine need. However, being helpful and compassionate does not mean that we must necessarily agree with everyone and go along with everything! We can, with a clear conscience, also draw a line and make it clear: “This is not my task!” To be as willing to help and love our neighbour as the Lord showed us means that we must also discern where there is genuine need. This can take the form of material need or possibly even emotional need, which is not always so easy to detect.

To speak as Christ spoke means that we must speak the truth. Jesus Christ spoke the truth. Not only that: He is the truth (cf. John 14: 6)! That is an example to us: let us always hold to the truth – but without hurting others. Let us always make sure that we respect the dignity of others and treat them with kindness and love.

We do not know the details of how Christ thought, but there are many things which can be derived from the manner in which He conducted Himself in the circle of His closest disciples and how He acted when He was alone. Often He withdrew to pray, seeking a connection with His Father – that was how He thought. On one occasion He said to His disciples: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (cf. John 14: 9). This was His thinking, namely that the disciples and all those around Him were to be able to recognise the Father in Him.

To live, act, speak, and think as Christ – if all of this comes together with the gift of grace which the Lord offers us, Christ can truly be in us! If Christ is in us, our hope in the day of the Lord will also be great. We wait for the day of the Lord with a lively hope!

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)