To that old way of trying to justify our existence by our own work. Union with Christ tells us, “you have died,” to that way of living. To the angst that comes from feeling like you’re not allowed to fail, or to the feelings of inadequacy that come from feeling like you have. To those human questions “Am I significant? Have I done enough? Am I accepted?” the answer is “Your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1).
This is the precious biblical truth of justification (Gal. 2:16). You no longer have to justify your life. You don’t have to worry, like Jay Gatsby, about others thinking you’re a nobody. You don’t have to go the distance, like Rocky, to prove you’re not a bum. Christ marries himself to you and in a wonderful exchange, you give him all your sins, and he gives you all of his righteousness.
In Christ, you are significant—he makes you so. In Christ, you are secure—he gathers you to himself and keeps you safe (Isa. 40:11). In Christ, you are accepted. But that acceptance no longer has to be earned or maintained; it is granted by grace and guaranteed in Christ. This doesn’t mean you stop working, but it does mean you now work in a totally new way. You no longer work for approval; you work from approval.
American Idol was one of the most popular television shows of all time, and for the contestants, one of the most nerve jangling. A single missed note could cost you the competition, but winning could change the course of your life. At the end of each season, when the competition was over and the winner had been crowned, she took up the microphone and sang one more time. But she was no longer singing to win; she was singing because she had won.
It was no longer a contest. She had nothing more to prove or earn. Instead, the chosen and honored performer could sing with all her heart, delighting in her gifts for the benefit of others. That’s the freedom from anxiety the gospel gives. You have already been chosen and crowned in Christ, so now you can do what you do with all your energy, delighting in whatever gifts God has given you for the benefit of serving others.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.