…for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him.
–Colossians 3:3-4 NET
Visiting relatives as a child came with a lot of internal ambivalence. I enjoyed the stories, hated stringing green beans, had a blast playing horseshoes or croquet, and cringed every time someone said I was “a shepherd”. What did that mean anyway? One aunt kept calling me by my Dad’s name, apologized, and remarked how much I look like my Dad. Then she would do it all over again in the same visit. Is that what it meant to be a Shepherd? I just look like my Dad?
Years later with kids of my own, I’m starting to catch a glimpse of what it might mean to be a Shepherd. I see family traits show up in my kids who did not grow up around extended family. Sure, they picked things up from me and their Mom, but they also have genetic physical and personality traits that simply link them to a certain family tree.
So it is with all humanity. As Adam’s seed, we do not naturally want God and deeply believe anything else is more satisfying than Him. So, we wilfully choose lesser pleasures expecting these to ease the pain, loneliness, and futility we face in this life. So, aside from forgiving our inclination to seek joy apart from God and how we go about doing it, is there more to God’s new agreement than that?
Paul suggests “more”: “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20 NET).
Echoing Paul’s declaration in Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis points out Christ’s radical intent when we accept His salvation: “Christ says, “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work; I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked–the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”*
Now as Christ’s seed, believers have received far more than forgiveness of sin and a new eternal destiny. We’ve also been given a new identity—we are new creations! (See 2 Corinthians 5:16-17.) Our spiritual DNA has been transformed at the core.
ACTION: Thinking about family traits, take some time to envision where you see Jesus in your believing spouse, kids, and spiritual community. I suggest sitting down with a close friend (your spouse?) and ask them where they see Jesus in you. Don’t settle for “nice person” words; the fruit of the Spirit is a good place to start.
*C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Collier Books, c. 1952, p. 167