I recently had a friend ask what I thought it meant that Christians are “in Christ.” As I thought about how to answer that, my mind went quickly to 2 Corinthians 5:17. Since I’ve been studying through 2 Corinthians, here are the thoughts I shared with me friend:
I see two big truths to being “in Christ”, the first is the “positional” or “objective” truth. By this I mean that when we place our faith in Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we are now positionally viewed by God as being in Christ: our total identity, who we are, is found not in our sin nor our works, but solely in Christ. Thus, when God views, judges, and loves us, it is based on Christ’s finished work on the cross and not our sin or anything else we do.
As a result of this “positioning” in Christ we share in the benefits of His work on the cross and resurrection. We have peace with God, we are co-crucified, co-buried, co-resurrected, co-ascended, and co-seated with Christ (Eph. 2:4-7; Gal. 2:21). Our life is hidden with Christ (Col. 3:3), and when we die, we die in Christ and so are with Him, and will be raised in His power (1 Thess. 4:13-18). There are certainly many other positional truths to being in Christ, like being adopted as God’s children, but these are the big ones for me. These positional truths don’t only effect our standing with God and our eternal destination, but also revolutionize the way we live here and now.
The second big truth I see as being “in Christ” is the “practical” or “subjective” truth. By subjective I don’t mean “uncertain” or “only true to you”, I mean truth as it applies to your personal experience. So, those who are in Christ are enabled, by the power of the Holy Spirit to live and love like Jesus. In Christ, we have renewed minds (Rm. 12:2), so we can see people as Jesus does (Mt. 9:36), and we can make ethical and moral decisions in a way that honor God. In Christ, we are free to resist temptation, and so can choose not to sin (1 Cor. 10:13). Not that we always live in these ways, but when we are in Christ, we have the ability to choose to live for God’s glory in all we do, and to find our total fulfillment in Him alone.
So to be in Christ revolutionizes our eternity and our now. We find our significance, motivation, reason and model for life, power for living, and salvation all from being “in Christ”. In short, being “in Christ” calls us to live radical lives for the glory of God and His Kingdom.