One of the pre-packed phrases, over used by well-meaning Christian counselors and other would-be encouragers is, “You have to see yourself as God sees you. Know who you are in Christ.”
I speak from experience. I can’t count how many times I was told to know who I was in Christ. Then, whoever it was would proceed to give me a print out of self-affirmations:
I am loved
I am beautiful
I am valuable
I am more than a conquerer
I am strong
I am joyful
“Now, everyday I want you to stand in front of the mirror and say these out loud to yourself until you believe them, until they sink into your habitual thought pattern.”
Not to sound flippant and ungrateful, but that didn’t work for me. I mean, to this day, even as a 26-year follower of Christ, the idea of being “in” Him seems esoteric. What on earth does that mean? Well, today, I think I got it! Take a look at these few verses from John 17. Jesus is praying to the Father for his disciples, for you and for me:
v.2-3 “For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is eternal life that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
v.26 “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
This passage gets pretty confusing as Jesus talks repeatedly about us being in Him and Him being in us. So let me try to unpack as it began to make sense to me.
Not too many people know that a few years ago, while working for Barnes and Noble, I occasionally had to dress up as a children’s storybook character – Peter Rabbit for example. Hot and stuffy as it was in there, I can guarantee you, I was as IN Peter Rabbit as anyone will ever be.
From inside the costume, to unsuspecting kiddos, I was Peter Rabbit incarnate. My voice became his voice, all my movements were his movements. Every choice I made to sit or stand or touch one of them, or tell a story about my life, all of it was Peter Rabbit. He could do or say nothing apart from me.
That’s what it’s like with Christ in me. It’s not an on and off thing. He isn’t in me one moment and then a few days later I’m no longer filled with His Spirit. No, as a believer in Christ, every movement I make, every word, every touch, even every story of my life is His. He becomes me to this world.
But also, I am in Christ. What happens when I am inside something else?
From my perspective inside the costume, I am concealed within, protected by Peter Rabbit. No one can touch me, except they go through him. Also, every move of my hand is hindered by the size and shape of Peter Rabbit’s hand.
So also with Christ, as I am in Him no one on earth can touch me, but that my Savior intervenes. And, as I willingly stay safe within Him, He will indeed shape and filter and influence all that I do in the world.
Does any of that make sense?
So, let me take you a tiny bit deeper. If I am IN Christ, then even my Heavenly Father only sees me through the filter of Christ. And I see the Father, through the eyes of His Son, so that now I call Him, Abba Father.
Finally, how does this affect how I see myself? How do I begin to internalize the fact that I am concealed within and containing the Spirit of Christ? The rest of John 17 goes on and on, pressing us to KNOW God. Eternal life is to KNOW God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus came to make God known to us.
Perhaps, the only way to finally see myself correctly is to quit looking at myself and to quit looking at the list of things I should be. I need to start looking solely at Christ. Truthfully, if He is in me and I am in Him, then I cannot see my real self without looking at Jesus.
To know GOD, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is to understand my own value – how and why and how much I am loved – IN HIM. Does this seem difficult?
STARE AT JESUS, IT’S WHY HE CAME.
No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.”John 1:18