Identifying with Christ

Will someone please take my place? I’d like to not have to worry about where our next paycheck is coming from, or make difficult decisions, or deal with house maintenance issues. I’d like life to be easier than it is and to let someone else face the challenges. I don’t feel equipped to tackle them on my own.

Fortunately, I am not alone. There is One who lives in me who is unfazed by the perception of limitation. I proceed from God, the infinite source of all power, love, and wisdom. I can take all my cares and worries and lay them at His feet. In the instant I do this, I know I am not alone. I am completely safe, and I am completely loved. I experience an overriding peace that transcends my limited understanding. (Philippians 4:6-7) My vision opens up to who I am and I understand that I am not my worldly troubles. I am not my limited perceptions and false notions of lack and limitation.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1) The image of God in us is calling us forth to enter into that larger life befitting who we are as sons and daughters of God, as sisters and brothers of Christ. Anything less is an affront to the artistry of our Creator. As humans, we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.” (1 Peter 2:9) If we try to exclude ourselves—or anyone else—from this honor, then all at once we dishonor God, ourselves, and each other. For “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” (Colossians 3:11)

We hold ourselves back by refusing to acknowledge and take responsibility for our own divinity. Jesus did not have this problem. He is our leader, our example, our template, our Savior, our “oldest brother”; yet we have kept him at arms’ length, turning him into an idol. “‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—except God alone.'” (Luke 18:19) To destroy this idol, we must not only worship him; we must worship him and identify with him. We must serve him and serve as him. We must see the light and be the light. We must own the responsibility and identity we share with Jesus, saying with him: “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) Lest we doubt, he affirms this for us: “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)

“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” (John 14:10) When we attribute our own power to any source other than God, we distort the truth. To set ourselves apart from Jesus is to make ourselves independent from God, which is nothing but a lie and an illusion. “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19) Jesus was the most dependent man who ever lived. We would do well to follow his example.

“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) When we say that Jesus is that and we are not, we become simple idolaters. We imagine that our life stems forth from another power and another source than the Father. The truth is that God is the only source, and thus we deceive ourselves. We are taught to imitate Jesus, but only in behavior and not in thought. We are taught that to think the thoughts of Jesus would be blasphemy. And yet the truth is exactly the opposite. Jesus showed us the way, and it is this: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) When we see ourselves as some other way, some other truth, and some other life, we cut ourselves off from our Father, the one and only source of all that is. And thus we read, “no one comes to the Father except through me”—except through this identification. We speak of our “identity in Christ,” yet we dare not actually identify with him. To the degree we resist identifying with Christ, we remain lost. Our failure to be like Jesus stems from our failure to identify with him. The good news is that as we succeed in identifying with him, we will succeed in being like him. “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)

To connect with God and be led to the “rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2) is to connect with that highest part of ourselves where God already dwells. Our prayers have power because they change us from within, opening our field of vision to the bigger Reality of which we’re a part. They help to heal the split between our lonely, weak individual selves and the Spirit of Christ, “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) who lives within us and among us and around us and through us—the source of our life, the wisdom by which we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and the One who sustains the very beating of our hearts. At this deepest level, our identify is found in God. At this deepest level, we are God at work in the world—the body of Christ, the eyes and hands and feet of Jesus. If not us, then who?