Life with Jesus
November 27, 2023 | Luke Proctor
We all have a gap. And no, I’m not talking about your teeth.
We all have a gap between who we are today and who we want to be. We’re not there yet. So, we live with this gap, and we want to close this gap. We want to grow, so we try harder.
New disciplines, resolutions, commitments, habits. But the problem is, with any commitment we try harder, then we get tired, and we miss a few days, and eventually we quit, and then we feel guilty for quitting, so we try harder all over again, right?
And sometimes, if you’ve ever felt that like I have, then you sit back and you think, “Is this all there is? Is that what the key to life is? Trying harder to do better?” But when Jesus came, he did not say “I have come that they may try harder to follow the rules and become a better person.” No, Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) So what’s missing? Where’s the disconnect? What do we need?
Let me answer that question with a story: William Randolph Hearst was a mega-wealthy 20th century newspaper mogul, and also an avid art collector. One day, Hearst saw a photo of two stunning works of art and decided that he wanted to add them to his collection, whatever the cost. After months of searching and investigating, Mr. Hearst’s agent came back and told him that he had finally located the paintings, and best of all, they wouldn’t cost him a dime. You see, He already owned them. The paintings were sitting in one of his warehouses, stored away out of sight with many of his other treasures that had never been unboxed. And as we live with the gap of who we are and who we wish we were, the key to closing this gap is closer than you think: What you need, you already have.
Our mission as a church is to help you become fully alive in Jesus. Maybe that sounds too good to be true, like the gap between your current life and “fully alive in Jesus” is far to big to close. Take heart: What you need, you already have. Here is what you have:
To be fully alive in Jesus means being with Jesus, in community, and on mission. This is our heart’s desire for every person at Plainfield Christian Church. We’ll talk about life in community and on mission later, but being fully alive all starts with life with Jesus.
So, what does life with Jesus mean?
In Colossians 3:1-4, Paul says this, “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life appears, you also will appear with him in glory.”
Paul says that Christ “is your life”. If I’m honest, I often think of Christ as part of my life, maybe even the most important part of my life, but I don’t often think of him as the whole of my life. But for Paul this was deeply, experientially true. Everything about him—his identity, purpose, character, future—was grounded in Jesus, and Paul wanted others to experience that same union with Christ...life with Jesus.
In the 13 New Testament letters that he wrote, Paul uses the word “Christ” 380 times. Since it only takes about 283 minutes to read all thirteen of Paul’s letters aloud, Paul’s sermons mentioned Jesus more than once a minute! We should too. Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” (or similar phrases like “in him”) over 160 times in his letters. Over and over, Paul proclaimed, “Christ lives in us! We live in him! Life with Jesus changes everything!”
And that’s good news for me. I need life with Jesus, because as Charles Spurgeon put it: “I have a great need for Christ, and I have a great Christ for my need.” Life with a great Jesus is great. And here’s why:
- Christ’s holiness is great, enough to cover all my unrighteousness.
- Christ’s mercy is great, enough to forgive all my sins.
- Christ’s patience is great, enough to bear with my slow obedience.
- Christ’s wisdom is great, enough to guide me through every confusion.
- Christ’s power is great, enough to strengthen my every weakness.
- Christ’s comfort is great, enough to heal my every sorrow.
- Christ’s joy is great, enough to brighten my darkest days.
- Christ’s goodness is great, enough to satisfy my soul when even the good things of this world disappoint.
- Christ’s love is great, enough to rest in securely when I feel unlovable and worthless.
- Christ’s faithfulness is great, enough to sustain me through every disappointing day until the glorious day when he comes again.
So how do we close the gap between who we are right now and who God wants us to be? We just keep doing life with Jesus, staying attached to him. Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
When we experience life with Jesus, he slowly begins to close the gap and make us who he wants us to be. Let me steal some of Paul’s words to describe what it looks like for the gap to close as we experience life with Jesus.
- When we are weak, we can now feel “Christ’s mighty power that works within.”
- When we are troubled, now “the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus.”
- When we are grieving, now “our comfort abounds through Christ.”
- When we are lost and confused, we can now lean on “Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
- When we are hard pressed and despairing, we can find “joy in the Lord.”
- When we are separated by societal dividing lines, we can experience supernatural unity because “Christ is all and is in all.”
- When we are tempted to return to our old life of sin, we can make new choices because “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
- When we are racked with guilt and shame over what we’ve done, and we feel the fleshly pull to slip back into old patterns of sin, we remember that our old self is dead because ““We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
- When we are lonely and rejected, we know we are not alone because “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When you experience life with Jesus, you begin to realize that everything about our lives is from Jesus, with Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus, and through Jesus. Paul finally just simplifies it and says in Philippians 1:21, not “to live is to try harder” or “to live is to believe that the Bible is true and then work hard to be a good person”, he says “For me, to live is Christ…”
So what about you? Fill in the blank. If you were totally honest, what would you say?
For me, to live is _________.
We all have a gap. Once you admit your gap and begin to surrender it to Jesus, you will discover that what you need you already have.
Our prayer for you is that as you experience life with Jesus, you would taste the joy and freedom that comes from being fully alive in Him.
For us, to live is Christ.