What Does it Mean to be Fully Alive in Jesus
November 20, 2023 | Luke Proctor
What does it mean to be fully alive in Jesus?
Our mission as a church is drawn from what Jesus says in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
God’s desire, and ours, is to help you become fully alive in Jesus.
So, what does that mean? Practically, at Plainfield Christian Church, it means we want you to experience life with Jesus, in community, and on mission.
We’ll flesh out those three aspects of being “fully alive” later. For now, let’s drill down on the core phrase of our DNA. What does the Bible say about being “fully alive in Jesus”?
Let’s start with a story. There’s a preacher named John Ortberg who went to his mentor (the great spiritual teacher Dallas Willard) for advice to handle what he was experiencing in ministry. Ortberg asked, “Dallas, what do I need to do to help our church experience greater levels of spiritual growth?”
Dallas was silent for a long time before answering. Then, he said, “You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God.”
Ortberg thought, “Huh?” “No,” Ortberg corrected him. “I wasn’t asking about me. I was asking about other people. I was wondering what I need to make the church do. I was thinking about a book everyone should read, or a program everyone should go through, or a prayer system everyone should commit to.”
“Yes, John,” Dallas said patiently. “I know you were thinking of these things. But that’s not what they need most. The main thing you will give your congregation – just the like the main thing you will give God – is the person you become. If your soul is unhealthy, you can’t help anybody. You don’t send a doctor with pneumonia to care for patients with immune disorders. You, and nobody else, are responsible for the well-being of your own soul.”
“I’m trying,” Ortberg said. “I learned long ago about the importance of having a quiet time when I read the Bible and do daily devotions. I do my best to start each day that way.”
“I didn’t say anything about having a quiet time” Dallas gently corrected again. “People in churches – including pastors – have been crushed with guilt over their failure at having a regular quiet time or daily devotions. Your problem is not the first fifteen minutes of the day. It’s the next 23 hours and 45 minutes.”
That is the heart behind being fully alive in Jesus. We want you to experience Jesus in the other 23 hours and 45 minutes of your day. But if your life is anything like mine--busy, boring, scattered, shallow, fun, frustrating, and pretty...well...pretty normal--is that even possible?
Come with me to John 16, where Jesus says something that absolutely floors me.
In John 16, Jesus is sitting at the Last Supper with his disciples. Remember, his disciples are the people who’ve been with Jesus side-by-side, seeing and hearing all the amazing things we read about Jesus doing in the gospels--the miracles, healings, teaching--they got to be friends with Jesus.
But tomorrow afternoon, Jesus will die on the cross. So Jesus is telling them that he is leaving, that he has to go, and he says in John 16:7, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away.” In other words, “Hey guys, it’s better for you if I leave.”
The disciples are confused. How could it be better if Jesus was gone? Jesus gives us the answer in the second half of this verse. Jesus says, “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Jesus is saying, “Right now I am with you, side-by-side, but that’s not actually why I came. I came so that we could be even closer than that.” And that’s exactly what happened.
Jesus dies, and three days later he rises from the dead, then he ascends to heaven, and He sends the Holy Spirit--God Himself to live not just with, but in us. Jesus’s departure does not mean less of His presence, but more of it.
Jesus’ friend Peter was there that night. Later on, he said this in 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life….” The ESV says that “you may become partakers of the divine nature.” God himself has shared his nature with you.
That means that to be a Christian is to have Jesus living in you. Another early Christian named Paul in the New Testament describes our salvation as being “in Christ” about 165 times. To be a Christian is to be in union with Jesus, you in him and he in you...fully alive in Jesus.
My favorite verse in the whole Bible might be Galatians 2:20, where Paul describes his union with Christ, saying, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Notice, Paul doesn’t say “I try hard to follow Christ’s example.” He says, “Christ lives in me.”
This is more than 15 minutes of quiet time every day. This has 24/7 implications. Being fully alive in Jesus is not a matter of trying to behave like Jesus, but of allowing Jesus to live through you. God’s plan was never for you to just try really hard to be a good person. From the very beginning, people have tried really hard to follow God, and yet each and every person since then has failed. But God had a much more powerful plan.
Paul says in Colossians 1:26-27, “The mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of the mystery, which is…” Drumroll, please…what’s the mystery, Paul? How is God going to save us and transform us? “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Louie Giglio says that the way Paul words Colossians 1:27 is hugely important. There’s a huge difference between our hope being “Christ in you” and “Christ and you.” If Paul would’ve said “Christ and you” then Jesus is there by our side as our cheerleader, but if you want to be fully alive, it’s mostly up to you to try harder and do better.
But the thing is that I can’t just manufacture more love. I can’t just look in the mirror and say, “I’m gonna be a gentle person.” I can’t just grit my teeth and muster up some kindness. I can’t just determine that I will be more self-controlled. Eventually, that’ll fail me. I’m not strong enough. 15 minutes every morning is not enough to make me fully alive in Jesus. The Christian life isn’t just difficult, it’s impossible. It’s so impossible that only one guy has ever been able to pull it off, and they named it after him: Jesus.
That’s why our hope is not Christ and you, but Christ in you. God knows you don’t have the strength to become who He wants you to be, so He’s not betting on you, He’s betting on Himself living in you, through you. So, Paul says in verses 28-29, “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”
He is our hope of glory. God’s desire, and ours, is for you to experience that deep reality of union with Christ...fully alive in Jesus, 24 hours a day.