A Little Word With A Big Meaning

I like the story of the little girl who was drawing a picture of God and when her teacher told her that nobody knows what God looks like she said, "They will when I’m done."

My hope is that when "I’m done," we will have a better understanding of a very little word with huge consequences. The only reason I deal with this subject is that great numbers of Christians have not really taken hold of the full meaning of this indispensable truth.

I will be quoting several Scriptures and I would like you to highlight in your mind every time you see the word "in." Yes, in. The dictionary says, "enclosed or surrounded by something." The little preposition takes such an important place in our lives that it dare not be ignored.

Paul uses this little word over and over to make certain the truth penetrates deep into our hearts, because it is so absolutely critical to our walking out the Christian life. Consider Ephesians 1:7, "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace"

Think of it this way. Even though the concept is difficult to grasp doesn’t mean it is untrue. This verse is not saying that our redemption came about because we knew about Christ, but because we are in Christ. In the spiritual dimension it is not a difficult issue. Just as he is in us, we are in him - in spiritual union with him.

1 Corinthians 6:17 "... the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him."

"And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption ..." (1 Corinthians 1:30). God made it so. We have none of these things by our doing. We have them in Christ.

Let me try an illustration. Suppose you are walking by a very aromatic fudge factory. You could be outside and smell those luscious aromas but not until you were in the store and partook of the candy could you take in and experience the joy of chocolate.

In this next verse we come to understand that your good deeds and right living are not what seals your relationship with God, but because you are in him you are sealed. "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 1:13)

Now let’s look at the other side of in, "Him in us." The wonderful promise is that God will just keep on being consistent in working his life into ours. "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)

And how about all those good works that we do for God. Oh, we can’t take the credit according to this verse. "... for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)

This last verse might cause a little head scratching, but our mandate is not to get out there and serve God the best we know how in our own strength, but rather to look for what he is doing and continue to live out the life he has given us in himself. "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him" (Colossians 2:6)

Jack Purcell is a retired Army LTC and had a second career at two different Universities as Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs. In between he twice served in leadership roles in two different Exchanged Life Offices. He now lives with his wife Mary in Boerne TX where he writes a weekly column in the Boerne Star, called On The Journey.