The Incalculable Wonder of Being a Christian
Being a Christian means experiencing the supernatural every day. Living as new creatures in Christ is amazing beyond calculation (Galatians 6:15).
The fact that many believers do not know this, and do not feel as if it were true, does not surprise us, because Paul prayed for believers that we “may know the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18–19). Evidently, he thought the Ephesian believers needed God to teach them the wonders of what they had experienced. He was praying for God to show them who they were. God must show us, by his word, who we are by his work.
It may seem strange, but we have to be taught that we are walking miracles. “You were dead in trespasses and sins. . . . But God made you alive” (Ephesians 2:1, 5). You may not feel like a walking resurrection, but you are.
The reason I said that this is amazing beyond calculation is that our life and its affections are not merely gifts of Christ but acts of Christ. That is, our love and joy and peace and strength are not merely gifts from Christ. They are the very love and joy and peace and strength of Christ himself.
Rejoice with His Joy
Consider joy first. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
“Being a Christian means experiencing the supernatural every day.”
Don’t miss this: His joy is in us. We don’t just have new joy as a gift from him. We have new joy because our new joy is Christ rejoicing in us. We are rejoicing with his joy.
When Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you,” he meant all those instructions in the preceding verses about abiding in Christ like a branch in a vine. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4).
The sap-joy of the branch is the sap-joy of the vine. They are not different joys. New creatures in Christ no longer experience joy simply with their own joy. We now have Christ’s joy in us, and our enjoying is his enjoying.
Abide in His Love
Similarly, we love with his love. In the same passage, Jesus says,
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:9–10)
What is the Father’s commandment? Verse 12: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” All the Father’s commandments are summed up in this: Love each other.
So Jesus is saying, “If you love each other, you are abiding in my love.” And what is that — that abiding in his love? It’s the same as abiding in his joy. Keep on loving with my love. Welcome my love as your love. To abide in the love of Jesus and of the Father is to keep on enjoying being loved and loving with their love.
His Peace, His Strength
And what about peace? Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
Peace is not a gift that passes from Christ the giver to us the receivers. His peace is ours because he is ours, and the peace he is experiencing we are experiencing. Our experience of peace is his peace in us because he is in us.
Similarly his strength. Paul says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). Being “in the Lord” is the same as the branch being in the vine. The strength of the Lord is not merely a gift from him to us. When we are strong against the devil and sin, our strength is his strength. He is being strong in us. We are being strong “in the strength of his might.”
Jesus Lives in Us
All this miraculous experience of Christ’s supernatural joy and peace and love and strength is rooted (grafted!) in the reality that the life of Christ in us. That is, the living Christ in us. “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:3–4).
“Christ is our life — not only the guarantee of it in heaven, but the down payment of it by the Spirit now.”
Christ is our life — not only the guarantee of it in heaven, but the down payment of it by the Spirit now, as he lives in us. His joy our joy, his love our love, his peace our peace, his strength our strength. These are not gifts moving from him to us. They are his life experienced as our life.
The closest Paul comes to giving us an explanation of how this happens hour by hour is Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Profoundly, miraculously, amazingly beyond calculation, “It is no longer I who live.” Rather, Christ is doing my living. Christ is rejoicing. Christ is loving. Christ is being peaceful, and strong. Not I.
And I? What do I do? “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” Faith. That is what I do. Don’t be vague here. Be specific. This means: When I am moved to rejoice, I trust that it is Christ rejoicing. When I am moved to love, I trust that it is Christ loving. When I am moved to peace and strength, I trust that this is Christ’s own peace and strength welling up in me.
So now, as you leave this article, say to the Lord Jesus, “Thank you for saving me. Thank you for making me a new creation. Thank you for becoming my life. Thank you for rejoicing, and loving, and being peaceful and strong in me. I trust you now to shape my emotions more and more after your image, for they are yours. And you are my life.”