union with christ

Faith is how union with Christ becomes operative and powerful in your life. Faith is a God-given gift that allows you to take hold of God’s having taken hold of you.

If you are in Christ, this is now the defining truth of who you are. Your life, your story, becomes enfolded by another story—Another’s story. That’s one way to define faith: faith means finding your identity in Christ.

“I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Paul is unusually personal here because he wants it to be utterly personal for you. He wants you, too, to be able to say, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I have a friend who used to be Mickey Mouse. She was the person inside the costume at Disneyland. Reflecting on her time “in Mickey,” she says, “Growing up, I thrived on behavior modification. I thought: If I’m good, I will be loved. If I’m bad, I will be rejected.

I learned to wear a mask—not to show what was really going on. My core beliefs were that I was not worthy, accepted, or loved, so I would clamor and manufacture ways to elicit the positive responses I wanted from people.

When I put on Mickey’s costume, I got that positive response times a hundred.” She felt safe and loved, covered in Mickey’s “righteousness.” But she also gained a new sense of what it means to be in Christ. She recalls praying, “Lord, is this what it’s like to have masses of people run towards you with joy, excitement, and eagerness?”

This is another way to picture what it means for you to be in Christ. You are completely safe, hidden in him. He represents you before the Father. He covers you—your sin, your shame, your weakness. But he covers you in a very real way, not as a temporary fiction.

Being “in Mickey” (or any other mask we hide behind) is to masquerade in a false identity. But being in Christ is to discover our true, God-given identity. You are alive in him, moving with him through this world, clothed in all his benefits and blessings. You are in Christ.

To be found in Christ means you don’t have to prove yourself anymore. Your frantic attempts to find or craft an acceptable identity, or your tireless work to manage your own reputation—these are over and done. You can rest. In Christ. You don’t have to be intimidated by anyone, ever. Who are you? You are in Christ! And you no longer need to fear the judgement of God (1 John 4:18). When God looks at you, he sees you hidden in Christ. This is freedom. This is confidence. This is good, good news.

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