“Do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” ~ Romans 6:12-13
“To be ‘in Christ,’ to have Christ within, to realize your creed not as something you have to bear but as something by which you are borne, this is Christianity. It is more: it is release and liberty, life with an endless song at its heart. It means feeling within you, as long as life here lasts, the carrying power of Love Almighty.” ~ James Stewart
Christians struggle against sin. We know that we aren’t perfect and we wrestle with that truth. We find ourselves doing things that we later regret and, at other times, failing to do things that are important. We don’t always find it easy to love and forgive. We quickly find ourselves drifting into patterns of behavior that are destructive to our relationships with God and other people. We, sometimes, even know that our lives are moving in the wrong direction, but find it nearly impossible to change. And, when other people see us caught in the midst of that great struggle, they quickly call us hypocrites.
Our lives begin to change as we come to “know Christ” more intimately. We may find ourselves abandoning patterns of behavior that are destructive to our lives and to our futures. We’ll, most surely, find ourselves more intentionally struggling against things that tear us away from God and other people. We’ll be more compassionate and loving. We’ll be more forgiving and embracing. Our lives will certainly change because, when we find ourselves more intimately dwelling in the presence of Christ, we’ll also discover that we cannot go away from our encounters with Love unchanged.
But, we need to be careful! Many good and faithful Christians allow their journey with Christ to become little more than a human struggle against sin. We know that we have fallen short (Romans 3:23) and we want to change. We may even begin to feel more distant from God as we come to “know Christ” more intimately – if we begin to believe that our journey with Christ should lead us toward a sense of self-created perfection. Those who desire to present themselves “as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:13) will soon discover that they can’t do that by themselves. We don’t come to “know Christ” more intimately by building a bridge toward God, by moving toward self-created human perfection, or by living in the “proper way.” We, actually, come to “know Christ” more intimately as Incarnate Love takes root and as God becomes the “Great Mover” in the center of our lives.
James Stewart said that our walk with Christ is not some sort of creed that we have to bear. Our walk with Christ is something by which we are borne. We come to know the “carrying power of Love Almighty” as we come to “know Christ” more intimately. God does not leave us alone in our struggle against sin. God has, instead, promised to walk beside us. God has promised to take us by the hand and lead us as we come to “know Christ” more intimately. God has even promised to lead us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3) as our spiritual journey moves us closer to the heart of God.
To discover that God walks beside us – and even carries us through life – is to find release and liberty. To realize that God does not leave us alone in our battle against sin is to discover that life can be lived in endless song! We come to “know Christ” more intimately as we discover that we have been forever set free from the spiritual treadmill of self-created perfection. We sing and rejoice with happy hearts as we come to discover that we are safely held in the palm of God’s hand – long before we do anything to deserve it.