Don’t be the answer

It’s Narcissist Friday!

It feels good to save the day. Mighty Mouse, the cartoon superhero, would fly up into the sky with the words, “Here I come to save the day!” Even a mouse can feel important when he is the hero.

Narcissists and other abusers know that you want to help people. They know that you feel good when you are the answer to someone’s prayers and hopes. So they will use that as a hook to manipulate you.

Years ago I interviewed for a church in Michigan. The congregation had a lot of problems. They brought us to the church, gave us the grand tour, and made a lot of promises. Then they sent us off with these words, “You are our last hope.” I was a new pastor, but those words terrified me. Somehow, I was able to feel the threat in them.

You are no one’s “last hope.” You might be able to help others in significant ways, but you do not want them to be dependent on you. Beware of those who look to you as a sort of savior, the answer to all their problems.

There are several kinds of abusers. Some are what we call “overt.” They are usually loud and control others by intimidation and power. Others we call “covert.” They are able to twist your heart until you find yourself controlled by their neediness. They seem to have no power but use others as tools with ease.

The covert abuser has just the kind of needs you will be tempted to fill. I have seen these folks take money, time, love, and loyalty with no scruples. They are users who have a different way of getting what they want.

And they will make you feel like you are their last hope, the answer to their prayers. They will overwhelm you with praise and gratitude—at first. After a short time, they become demanding and expect you to come running when they cry. You will find yourself drained and weakened, used up, by their constant expectations. All because you felt like you could save their day.

It is good to help people, but you must avoid the role of deliverer. There is one Deliverer, one Savior. The best you can do is turn people to Him. If you find them looking to you as the answer, rather than to Him, back away.

Obviously, some people cultivate the savior side of the relationship. They want to be the answer for others. That gives them control. But you don’t need to control others. You just want to be kind. So, set some limits and be willing to say no.

You are not the answer people need. No matter how good it feels, you cannot take on that role. It isn’t good for them and it will come back to bite you.

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What does it mean to backslide?


It’s Monday Grace!

There are few things easier than returning to an old habit. Overeating, smoking, cussing—we clean up our act for a while then slip back. Sometimes it is a small step, and sometimes we just jump right back in with both feet.

I have written a lot about the flesh, those patterns of living and coping we learned before we came to Jesus. They are so familiar, so automatic, and they feel so right. They were normal for us. Now, in Jesus, things are different. We are different people, and our lives are drawn from a new source. The old ways no longer define us. At the same time, we continue to live in a familiar world, surrounded by familiar people, and the old familiar ways come back easily.

Now, that’s all that is meant by the term “backsliding,” as used by the Scriptures. It means to turn away from the new path toward the old familiar way. The problem, of course, is that the old way either wasn’t getting us anywhere or was taking us into serious trouble. Who would want to go back?

I think it was Keith Green who sang about the people of Israel wanting to go back to Egypt. Egypt was their place of bondage and pain and hopelessness. But life in the camp of the Lord was not easy. Everything was different. And our minds have a way of redecorating the past to look better than it was.

So, we slip back. Into old habits, old relationships, old risks and dangers. They are even worse than they were before, but at least they are familiar.

Preachers love to warn people about backsliding. If most preachers couldn’t scold their people for slipping back to the old way, they wouldn’t have anything to say. It does little good to tell unbelievers not to do bad things, so these preachers have to rail against their own people.

And, to be fair, there are warnings against backsliding in the Bible. Jeremiah mentions it a lot as he grieves for his people. It is worth talking about. Paul asked an interesting question of believers:

What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. Romans 6:21

In other words, why would you go back to the behaviors that defined your life apart from Jesus, the ones that brought you so much pain? The only end to those behaviors is negative.

Yet, those old sins call to us. Their memories and patterns are still with us. Are we doomed to bounce back and forth in shame and repentance until we die? That’s what you might learn in some churches.

But I would bet you have never heard this verse:

I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him. Hosea 14:4

Who will heal your backsliding? You? By your own efforts? By accountability groups or a stronger will? No. God will heal your backsliding. How? By the living Spirit within you. The more you open yourself to the Spirit’s power and love, the more consistent your walk with Jesus will be.

The message of grace is that any “do-it-yourself” message is not only false, but doomed. You have no more ability to fix yourself now than you did before you came to Jesus. The power is His. Look to Him. Ask Him to guide you in your actions, to heal your thinking, and to keep you close in His presence. Trust that He is working all the time to heal you.

God is not angry with you. He loves you and is working good in your life. Trust Him.

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Wipe the dust off your feet

It’s Narcissist Friday!

“The person who says he has no regrets probably lies about other things also.”

My father and I used to say that to each other. Life is full of missed opportunities and wrong decisions. Investments that don’t pay off, friendships that turn sour, dreams that fade away. If you have never suffered disappointment in life, you haven’t lived very much. We all have ideas of how things should have been but were not.

I believe regret is part of investing in life. We try, and sometimes we try hard. But then it doesn’t work, and we are disappointed. Regret is normal.

But the key to regret is moving on. Don’t let failure or disappointment become a stopping place in your life. You may never forget, but you can move on. Regret is just a memory.

If you let regret be a normal part of your progressing life, you won’t waste time and energy trying to fight it or deal with it. You can feel it without making yourself live at that point.

Jesus told His disciples to go into a village to tell them the good news. (Matthew 10) If the people of the village did not receive the gospel, the disciples were to “wipe the dust off” their feet and proceed to the next village. Was this because Jesus would give only one chance and then abandon the lost? Of course not. This was for the sake of the disciples.

No, Jesus didn’t want the lost to stay lost. He came for the lost He came with good news, and He wanted the people to receive it. Those who would never receive His gift would suffer, and the importance of sharing the gospel was serious, but the disciples were never responsible for the results. They were to move on.

When we feel that something is important, perhaps vitally important, we want to see success in our efforts. But failure and rejection do happen. They are part of dealing with real people. And those failures and rejections are not to remain stuck to us. We are to wipe them off and move on.

Don’t let your regrets rule or ruin your life. Too many people are stuck at the point of their regrets. They cannot forgive themselves for failure. They cannot forgive someone else for an offense. They cannot let go of a dream that has slipped away. They live in the moment of their regret.

Not you. You are more than the events of your life. You have a future and a hope. There is more to life than what you have been through. Find it by letting yourself move forward.

It has been my experience that there are people in our lives who don’t want us to move beyond a certain negative point in our lives. It is a point they can laugh at or use against us. They label and categorize us by that one point in our lives. These abusers hold you to that regretful point of time or event so they can keep you weak and confused. They seek to control you by your regret.

Don’t let them. That is not where God sees you. He sees you walking perfectly with Him. He is always looking forward to something wonderful for you.

I have always loved the revelation of the heart of God in Jeremiah 29:11,

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

This is a word for you today. God wants you to move toward the future He has in mind for you. Don’t get stuck along the way.

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What Does It Mean That The Old Man Is Dead?


It’s Monday Grace!

Whatever happened to the old you? You know, the person you were before you met Jesus?

Some teachers would have you believe that you are still the same person, that you still need to repent for those things you did before you came to Christ, and that you are still identified by those sins. In other words, you might have become a Christian, but you are still the same as you were before.

Other teachers would have you think that you are some kind of hybrid, a schizophrenic dual personality. There is the new you in Christ, they say, but there is also the old you in sin. Each moment you have to choose which you will be. The successful Christian life is one where the person chooses to be the new self most often.

Now, those two ideas present some very practical problems. In the first scenario, becoming a Christian has really done nothing for you. You are still in your sins, still afraid and ashamed, and still under bondage. You might go to Heaven when you die, maybe. There is no real hope and no freedom for those who are still in the old person.

And, to be fair, the world and the devil, even our own flesh, constantly tells us that nothing has changed. When we find ourselves doing the things we used to do, we condemn ourselves and the evil one accuses us and the world points to our sin and offers testimony against Jesus. There are certainly days in the new life when we don’t feel like much has changed.

Yet, we want to believe that something has changed, in fact that everything has changed. So, we become open to the second teaching, that the old self and the new self live side-by-side and battle every minute of every day for control. That also feels sort of right, doesn’t it? We do have some good times when we do the right things. But the old way seems to be there too.

Many believers live this kind of broken and conflicted life. They spend their days fighting against themselves and have no confidence of success. If they win, they feel good, but they also believe they might fail next time. After all, they think they are two equal and opposite people. The old and the new.

So, believers continue to live in fear and shame. Never confident in their relationship with the Lord. Never sure of eternal life. Never really at peace. The yoke they carry is neither light nor easy.

The Scriptures, on the other hand, are quite clear that the old man is dead! There are three specific references to the “old man,” the person you were before Jesus.

…knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Romans 6:6

…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts Ephesians 4:22

Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, Colossians 3:9

In the first reference, the old man died by crucifixion with Jesus. He/she was not raised with Jesus. The old person died. In the second, the old man is becoming “corrupt,” which means decaying. It is so dead that it is beginning to stink. In the third, we are told that the old man has been “put off,” no longer attached to us in any way. We have been separated from what we were.

I think that is pretty clear. We are no longer that old person. What we were is not what we are. Even if we still do some of the same things, even if we remember those things too clearly, even if others accuse us of still being the same, we have been made new in Jesus. We are not what we were.

So, the message of grace is not for us to get better or work harder or try to make up for what we did before Jesus. The message of grace is for us to live according to the Spirit who is guiding us into who we are. Our hearts and minds are being transformed day by day. The flesh, which I have written about before, wants to pull us back to what is familiar, but the Spirit pushes us into the truth of who we have become in Christ.

The good news for the believer is that the old is truly gone. That person died on the cross. You and I are new creations, and we no longer are guilty and shamed by the past that is separated from us. Nor are we bound to the sins which once controlled us. We are to live as free sons and daughters of the King of kings. We are good and righteous and strong because of Jesus. His life is the new life that flows in us, and we are never going to be separated from Him.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

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Never Join Anything

It’s Narcissist Friday!

Okay, so the title of this post might be a little overstated. But I don’t mean simply to be careful about the groups you join. I mean never join yourself to anything. Never connect your life to an organization or cause or ideology. Never add an association to your identity.

You see, there is an idea (pushed by controllers and users) that when you join their group you submit yourself to their leadership and authority. For example, when you join some churches, you are supposed to live like they tell you to live and serve like they tell you to serve. If you don’t, you will be punished or separated from the group.

After every election you will hear someone say something like this: “I didn’t want to vote for that candidate, but I felt I had to since I am a member of his/her party.” Joining a certain political party or a certain movement seems to demand a loyalty, a service, that binds a person to performing or even believing a certain way. Few organizations willingly embrace those who disagree with the “company line.” Walk a different path from others who have joined the organization and you will usually find yourself criticized and under some kind of threat.

Your loyalty is very important to narcissists and other abusers. You are expected to release your will, your identity, into their hands. They will tell you what to do, how much money to give, and anything else they can get by with. And, interestingly, most people obey simply because they “joined.”

I realize that joining things is a part of life in this world. You are expected to join a church you attend regularly. You may be required to join a union. You will be pressured to join clubs and organizations of many kinds. It is challenging to live in society without joining something.

So, if you have to join something, be sure you consider your connection an “association.” In other words, you are choosing to associate with a certain group or cause, but you are not joining your identity to them. You should not identify yourself with their label, whether it is a political party, a church, or a civic organization. The moment you do, you become burdened with their weaknesses and compromises. You also lose a little of yourself in the label.

Sadly, church labels and organizations are just as much a part of this caution as are political parties. Groups of all kinds tend to speak for their membership. All xx’s believe this. All yy’s vote this way. All zz’s do these things.

But you are not of this world, not limited by any association. The only joining that matters is your relationship with Jesus and your connections to the special people He leads you to in life. Join with Jesus. Join with your spouse and children. But that’s about it.

Some readers might find this hard. Others will find this liberating. My point is that you are a person, unique in thought and heart. You cannot be defined by an organization’s goals or a church’s doctrines. You must always be free to follow the Lord who loves you. An organization’s label does not add to who you are, and the risk of guilt by association may communicate to others things that are not true of you.

The day will come when all associations in this world will end. Some of us have experienced some painful separations already in our lives. Loyalties, investment, commitment—sometimes these words had little meaning to the groups to which we were joined. When the trouble came, the group simply added to our pain. All our joining meant was that it was harder to go a different way.

But our joining with Jesus will never end, and in Him we are joined to each other. The day is coming when we will see and enjoy the beauty of all that.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

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What Does It Mean That The Flesh Still Has Influence?

It’s Monday Grace!

So, okay, I believe in Jesus and trust Him for my salvation. I want to please Him with my life. I want everything He wants for me, and I want to avoid the things He warns me against. I really do.

But why is it that I fail so often? Why do I get angry or lie or cheat or do things I know I shouldn’t do? Why do I forget to pray, neglect my Bible, and walk through so many of my days unaware of His presence? And where do all these awful thoughts come from?

Well, here’s the problem we all face. We are saved, completely, with nothing more to do to become more saved. Those who look to Jesus find Him and receive the life He gives them. He is our life. He will carry us through death to be with Him forever. But here and now, in this life, we still remember the old ways. In fact, the old ways are still our default mode.

As we grew up, we learned a system of living, a way of life that worked more or less. It became habitual, ingrained. We see life in categories and patterns because that’s how we learned to cope with the craziness and fear. And we learned some bad things and some dumb things.

When you see two people laughing at something and they quit just as you come up to them, do you wonder if they were talking about you? Whether they were or not, the thought goes through your mind because you have learned to fear it. Do you flinch when someone raises their hand quickly to you? Perhaps you still have a response that came from times when you were hit. These things get deep into our subconscious minds.

In the same way, anger pops up when we feel threatened or cheated or accused because we feel we have to defend ourselves. That was what we learned before we knew Jesus. Fear comes when we face uncertain circumstances because we remember and anticipate pain and suffering. Even though we believe with our conscious minds that Jesus is enough for us and His is the only opinion that matters, we still react by default according to what we learned before we knew Him.

This is what the Bible calls the flesh and what Paul tells us not to walk in. We are to walk in the Spirit, to think according to the Spirit, because we no longer have to be controlled by our flesh. The world system and the coping mechanisms we learned no longer have power over us. But our flesh, our memory and habit patterns, usually has to be convinced.

So, lust and anger and fear and worry and bitterness and all the negative emotions that move us to wrong thoughts and actions still have influence in our lives because of this flesh in which we live. One day we will be rid of it forever. In the meantime, we have to remind ourselves of who and Whose we are.

Does Jesus know about this? Of course, He does! He knows that you and I fail. He knows about our fears and worries and temptations. He loves us and walks with us through all of them. He calls us to give more and more to Him so that we don’t have to be under such destructive and confusing influence, but He also understands why we fail so often.

Never forget that the goal of the Christian life is not perfection, not perfect thinking or behavior. Those things will be ours forever when the flesh is left behind. No, the goal of the Christian life is to be with Jesus. The more we live in and enjoy His presence, the more we will find the influence of the flesh slipping away. Then we will live and walk in the Spirit.

Your failure does not separate you from the Lord who loves you. It only serves as a reminder that you should draw nearer to Him and His love. He is always looking for that “closer walk” with you.

Galatians 5:16-17
16  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

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Me, Myself and I

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

(A post from the past as a good reminder.  I am traveling and thought this might be an encouragement.)

The old Billie Holiday song brought a simple saying into our vocabulary that seems to encompass all of who we are while hinting at a sort of loneliness:

“Me, Myself, and I”

The phrase almost sounds like a reference to three people, yet the three are just one alone. Just me.

There is a difference between being alone and being by one’s self. Those who are not happy with themselves, who dislike who they are, will find the phrase lonely. Those who like themselves, who understand at least a few of their own motivations and affirm who they are, might find a sort of empowerment in those words.

Healthy people are content with themselves. Healthy people, while needing relationships and enjoying others, are not afraid to be alone. In fact, they can find being alone to be refreshing and uplifting.

Now, I know that much of the message you and I have heard in churches would lead us to be very disappointed in ourselves, even to not like who we are. One of the worst things preachers and teachers have done to us is to make our alone times uncomfortable by trying to convince us that we are somehow unworthy. I suppose if God is ultimately disappointed with and ashamed concerning me, then I should feel the same way about myself. So how could I be content being alone?

Narcissists confuse our sense of self. They try to insert themselves into our beings, and we tend to forget who we are. When the narcissist tells us that we are stupid or worthless or unwanted, we learn to agree and begin to dislike ourselves. We may even try to keep from being alone just because we have learned to hate ourselves.

It’s time for all of that to change. The truth is that God loves you, yes, just as you are. There is no “if” or “but” at the end of God’s love for you. He values you as a person. We have been taught that God doesn’t choose us because we deserve His love. That’s fine, but it doesn’t mean we are worthless. We have great worth because He loves us. God loves you—and that makes you valuable. In fact, that makes you someone very special.

The preachers who try to degrade your sense of self are wrong. The narcissist who tried to convince you that you are unworthy was lying. Not only are you acceptable to God, He highly values you. So much that He sent Jesus to pay the price to bring you home.

When you are alone, don’t tell yourself the lies the narcissist told you. Don’t repeat the shameful assessment the preachers gave you. Instead, begin to see yourself as a person of great value to the only One who can make such a judgment.

When you are alone, be okay with yourself. That’s healthy.

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About Jesus

    

(A post from the past as a reminder.  I am traveling and thought this might be an encouragement.)

Every so often, I have to go back to why I started this blog.  It actually did not start to be about narcissism.  It started because of the people I saw trapped in what I called “performance spirituality.”  That simply meant that they measured their spiritual health on the basis of their performance.  They were usually sad or angry and stuck on a treadmill that took them nowhere.  Some of them left the Christian faith, never having experienced the joy of a relationship with Jesus and never knowing that they were fully accepted in His love.  Some of them are still stuck in churches that demand performance in order to receive acceptance.

As I wrote about this idea of performance spirituality, which I called (and still call) “legalism,” I thought about the teachers and others who seemed to work hard to keep people under this burden.  I had learned about narcissism from counseling marriages, particularly among those who had lived and breathed this type of spirituality.  As I understood more about narcissism, and as I continued to try to understand this legalism, I saw a connection that made sense.  There are so many parallels between narcissists and legalists, and between the narcissistic relationship and the legalistic organization.

Quite surprising to me, my articles on narcissism hit a niche that needed to be served.  Many Christians have suffered from narcissistic connections in marriage, church, family, and friendships.  And many of those same people have found themselves part of the performance spirituality mindset.  They believed they had to perform in order to be accepted, to be loved.  But their best performance was never enough.  They paid for their failures with condemnation and shame and abuse.

This has always been a blog centered on the love of God in Jesus.  I believe the true gospel has been usurped by the idea of performance and the message of shame.  Most of those who have rejected the Christian faith, in my experience, have never even heard the truth about God’s love.  They have been told a lie, and that grieves me.

In much the same way, and not coincidentally, the victim of the narcissist has often not understood her/his own value as a person.  The insufficiency of their performance, and the shame and self-doubt that results from it, opens their hearts to the manipulation of those who claim to love them.  Growing up under the system that grants love on the basis of performance sets people up for narcissistic abuse, just like growing up under the teaching of performance sets a person up for legalistic abuse.

Now, I understand that the posts on narcissism are helpful for people outside the Christian faith, and I welcome you here and to our discussions.  It just seems important for me to state once again where the foundations of my heart and intent belong.  I believe that the unconditional love of Jesus is the answer for anyone.  Those who have never felt love without strings attached, who have never been accepted without performance, can come to Him and find both.

It isn’t about church or giving or commandments or measuring up—it’s about Jesus.  It isn’t even about your love for Him.  It’s about His love for you.

We are all broken and hurting people living lives of weakness and limitation.  We make stupid decisions and suffer the consequences.  Sometimes other people suffer the consequences of those stupid decisions.  Not only are we not perfect, we don’t really know what it means to be good.  All of us.

So we look to Jesus.  Our hope and promise are in Him, because we know very well that we can’t save ourselves.  I believe He loves me—One on one—a real relationship.  There is so much I do not understand, but I trust in His love.  And that makes all the difference.

I invite you to look to Jesus with me.  If I can help, send me a note.  I am already praying for you.

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Keep Your Secrets

It’s Narcissist Friday!

I have noted in past posts that narcissists are predators. I suppose all abusers are to some extent, but narcissists are often patient, sensitive, and generous—in the beginning. They groom their victims with nice words and kind actions until they are confident that the hook is set securely. Then, as many have described, everything changes.

One of the most common characteristics of the lover narcissist is the ability to listen. They will listen to your stories, your complaints, your memories, and your confessions. Someone once described their narcissist as empathic, the very quality narcissists lack, but I said it wasn’t empathy that moved him to listen so patiently, it was investment. It was a means to an end. Once enough information was gathered, it would be used as a controlling weapon.

At the same time, there is something in the hearts of hurting and vulnerable people that wants to be heard. Perhaps we actually feel that confession is “good for the soul.” Perhaps we so desperately want someone who will accept us. Perhaps we want to tell all our dirty secrets just to test the relationship. Maybe there are several reasons. Hurting people often want to tell their secrets.

But you should keep your secrets. You don’t have to tell everything up front. Be very careful of the person who listens and asks for more. In fact, you should feel free to hold things back. Many of your secrets are simply between you and the Lord. Keep them that way.

You will have to listen to the Lord on this. There are things a spouse should know that others don’t need to know. At the same time, I don’t think even a spouse needs to know everything. You share life with your spouse, but you don’t depend on your spouse for life. What I mean is that you have a right to secret thoughts and memories.

Many will disagree with me on this, but I would remind you that you are a person with a unique and intimate relationship with the Lord. He knows all your secrets, and He loves you. He has never wavered in His love for you because His love has never been contingent on expectations or images. Everyone else in your life has their own desires for what they want you to be. Everyone else is compromised by their own flesh and feelings.

You only see life through your eyes. You are the only one who has lived your life. You are the only one who thinks your thoughts. So don’t be afraid to keep some things to yourself.

Of course, you understand that some secrets can slip out at the wrong time to hurt you or others. Those you may have to handle differently. But choose. Pray for guidance and make the choice. And you may not have to tell more than one person.

Too often, friends are terrible confidantes. They blurt out your secrets or use them to shame and control you. And, sadly, you may not know which of them will do it. So, be careful. And don’t be ashamed to hold things back. The ones who most think they have a right to the details of your life may be the ones you shouldn’t tell. The more they ask or push, the more you should keep your mouth shut. And if a friend confides in you, be sure that you don’t share their secrets with others. Don’t be the one who hurts or uses a friend.

The only One who matters already knows. And He loves you. So tell Him everything, all your secret disappointments and expectations and failures. It may help a lot to speak of these things, but do it in the privacy of your own relationship with Jesus.

A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter. Proverbs 11:13

Debate your case with your neighbor, And do not disclose the secret to another; Proverbs 25:9

I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Psalm 32:5

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What Does It Mean That I Am In Christ?

It’s Monday Grace!

There are concepts that are hard for the mind to understand but bring joy to the heart.  I am increasingly convinced that the most important things of the Christian faith are things of the heart.  The Scriptures speak of certain things being “spiritually discerned.”  Those whose only connection to the faith is the doctrine and lifestyle they have learned miss the deeper and most meaningful joys.

The reason of the mind is primarily a thing of this world.  We pull from past experiences and seek to categorize life in ways that are helpful to us.  But the joys of our faith are not of this world.  They come from the heart of God and are revealed to our hearts.  Instead of shunning our emotions, our feelings, we should use them to allow us to see the truth about ourselves and our Lord.

This world is not our home.  How do we know that?  Because Jesus said this world was and is not His home.  We are in Him.  Our life is inseparably connected with His.  He is in us, and we are in Him.  If this world is not Jesus’ home, then it cannot be ours.   His kingdom is not of this world, He says, and we are certainly of His kingdom. 

Home is in Jesus.  Wherever He is, that’s home.  That’s one thing that is meant when we say that we are in Christ.  In Him, we are home.  There is something that connects us to Him, something greater than the things that connect us to anything or anyone else.  When the end of this life comes, we can be at peace leaving it all behind.  Even those we love, we leave, hoping and trusting that they will be with us where we go.  Home is in Him.

In Christ, we are safe.  Nothing will separate us from Him because nothing is strong enough to break that bond.  As we trust in His work, His initiative, His power, we can be at peace.  Nothing can touch us. 

In Christ we are who we are supposed to be.  We don’t fully understand this now, because the flesh is still fighting to be supreme.  The day will come, however, when the flesh will be washed away and we will be free and full in Christ.  In Christ, our identity is affirmed and secure.

When Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God or the kingdom of Heaven, He is referring to Himself.  That kingdom is in Him.  He calls us to live forever in Him.  We are surrounded, overwhelmed, with His presence.  Again, the day will come when we will understand this.  Today we see dimly, occasionally. 

I remember a story I heard many years ago of a woman who was dying.  As she looked into Heaven, she said, “The air is full of music!”  In a sense, I think that describes how it will be when we finally and forever see ourselves in Jesus.  He will be all around us.  We will know His presence intimately and securely. 

Peace and joy and love.  These are the things we find in Christ.  Things of the heart.  Grace, if you will, for the heart. 

1 Corinthians 1:30
30  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption–

2 Corinthians 5:17
17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

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