Union with Christ: A Neglected Truth

Very often our union with Christ exerts a profound but unexamined influence.

A brief survey of the New Testament will quickly reveal the importance of the idea of union with Christ. This idea is given special emphasis in the writings of Paul, as one finds the Apostle describing virtually every aspect of Christian privilege and experience as “in Christ” or “in Him.”

 

I was born and raised in Scotland, but I’ve lived in the United States for many years, and my family has begun to plan to become citizens. But I must confess to feeling a surprising reticence during discussions of those plans. Probing my feelings on the subject has been revealing for me. I have seen that my reluctance has nothing to do with a lack of love for my adopted country. My family and I have felt welcomed and at home here since we moved from the U.K. ten years ago. So why the reluctance? I think it has to do with a deep sense of rootedness in my native land. Its people and culture and history, its landscape and language, have shaped my identity so that even when I do finally become a naturalized American, I will never be an American. I will always be Scottish.

The doctrine of the believer’s union with Christ is a foundational truth. But, like the many unexamined ways my homeland has shaped me, very often our union with Christ exerts a profound but unexamined influence. At the risk of pressing the analogy too far, we might say that our union with Christ is the believer’s native country, and it shapes and forms him or her in a myriad of subtle ways. Whatever else we might say of a Christian believer, this much we must always say: he or she is a man or woman in Christ.

A brief survey of the New Testament will quickly reveal the importance of the idea of union with Christ. This idea is given special emphasis in the writings of Paul, as one finds the Apostle describing virtually every aspect of Christian privilege and experience as “in Christ” or “in Him.”

In this series of short articles, it is my purpose to highlight some of the glories of this vital truth. In this article, however, I want to ask and try to answer this question: If union with Christ is foundational to the Christian life, and if union with Christ is found everywhere in the pages of the New Testament and in connection with almost the entire encyclopedia of Christian truth, then why is this union so widely neglected and misunderstood in the church today?

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