Benefit of Being In Christ, Part 2
by Rev. Randy Brown
Our scripture for the morning is taken from the book Colossians chapter 1 beginning with verse 24. Out of reverence and respect for our Lord, would you stand for the reading of God’s word? Paul is writing to the church, Colossian church, and here’s what he says.
I’m now rejoicing in my suffering for your sake; and in my flesh, I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s affliction for the sake of his body that is the church.
I became a servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you to make the word of God fully known. The mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations, but has now been revealed to his saints. To them, God chose to make known how great among the gentiles or the riches of the glory of this mystery. This mystery which is Christ in you, is the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone, and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that all may present themselves mature in Christ. For this, I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.
This is the word of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.
We’re going to pray together.
Lord, would you come once again and rescue me from me? Would you hide me behind the cross that the words that are heard would be your words and not mine, that the one who is seen would be you and not me? Above all else, may we hear the quiet shuffling of sandaled feet, and know that it is Jesus, the Christ who comes to walk in our midst? It’s in His name and for His glory, I pray. Amen.
Last week, we began a two-part series about the benefits of Christ. Last week, we talked about if we are in Christ, we are a new creation.
About how if anyone be in Christ, they are a new creation, and the old has passed away. We talked about the benefits of being in Christ, the benefit of forgiveness, the benefit of being a part of the family of God, the benefit of freedom, and the benefit of the future. Today, we’re going to talk about the benefits of Christ being in us. While the benefit of us being in Christ is personal, the benefit of Christ being in us is passionate. It’s not necessarily for us that benefit, but it’s for the world, for those who have not yet heard. The benefit is for us to be passionate to a lost world that’s so desperately needs to hear what Jesus is saying. Christ wants to be in you, and He wants you to be in Him, and He wants to engulf you. He wants an intimate close relationship with you.
Years ago, there was a letter written that I want to share with you this morning. I think it points out the fact of how close and intimate God wants to be with us. Dear friend, I just had to send you this note to tell you how much I love you and care about you. I saw you yesterday as you were walking with your friends. I waited all day hoping that we will have a chance to walk and talk also; but as evening drew near, I gave you a sunset to close your day, and a cool breeze to rest you. I waited, but you never came. It hurt me, but I still love you because I’m your friend. I saw you fall asleep last night and long to touch your brow.
I spilled the moonlight on your pillow and on your face; and again, I waited, wanting to rush down, so that we could talk. I have so many gifts for you, but you awakened late the next day, and you rushed off to work. My tears were in the rain. Today, you looked so sad and so all alone. It made my heart ache because I understand. My friends let me down and hurt me so many times too, but I love you. If you would only listen to me, I really love you. I tried to tell you that love is in the blue skies and the quiet green grass. I whispered in the leaves on the trees, and breathe it in the colors of the love songs to sing.
I clothed you with the warm sunshine, and I perfumed the air with nature scents. My love for you is deeper than the oceans, and bigger than the biggest want or need in your life. If you only knew how much I really wanted to help you, how much I want you to meet my Father for he wants to help you too. My Father is that way. Just call me. Ask me, talk with me. I have so much to share with you, but I won’t hassle you. I wait for you because I love you. Signed, Jesus. What are the benefits of Christ being in us? The benefits of Christ being in us is that he engulfs us, and he comes to live within us.
There was a story written years ago called My Heart Christ’s Home. In that story, if you read it, you know that a person took their whole life and allowed Christ to move in to their home. He took care of a lot of things. He took care of the magazines that were around the house and changed them. He took care of what was on television and changed the channels. He took care of all those things whereby Christ was felt welcomed as a guest. If you read the story, you know that on it goes. Christ comes to the person one day and says, “There’s still something not just quite right.” He said, “I think it’s in a closet in the back hallway of the house.” The man knew instantly what it was that there was something that he hadn’t yet turned over to Christ.
Christ said, “If I’m to reign and rule in your life, you have to turn it all over to me.” That’s what it is for Christ to be in us. We have to turn it all over to him. For he says, “I stand at the door and knock, and if anyone would open that door, and you know there’s only a doorknob on the inside.” For Christ to come in to your life, it’s an inside job. He’s not going to force it on you. If you’ll open the door, he says, “I’ll come in, and I’ll sup with you and you with me; and I will dwell with you.” Dwelling is different. You can occasionally visit somebody or you can dwell with them.
Christ wants to come and dwell with us. That’s what it is to have Christ in us is to let him dwell in our hearts, in our life, to let him take up residence. We do this, so that we might be a change agent in the world. Years ago, I had the privilege of meeting David Cutcliffe who was at that time one of the assistant coaches at the University of Tennessee. He came to do a ceremony at a high school where I was a chaplain, and he spoke. I never will forget a story that Coach Cutcliffe told. He said, “You know, they’re pretty smart. No offense, Frank; but they’re pretty smart there at the University of Tennessee, and they think on their feet quite a bit.”
He said, “We had this lineman, and he was taking a class, and the lineman… The professor said you have X number of moments not only to take this exam, not only to finish the exam, but it’s got to be on my desk when the clock goes off.” The lineman worked. He’s just working as hard as he can work to take this test. Doing the best he can possibly do, he’s the last one finished. As he gets up to walk from his desk to the professor’s desk, the clock goes off. He’s too late. He’s missed the deadline. The guy walked up to the professor. He said, “Here’s my paper.” The professor said, “Don’t you know that that’s not the rule, that you took too much time, and you cannot turn this paper in?”
The lineman thought for a minute. He said, “Sir. Do you know who I am?” He said, “I don’t have a clue.” With that, the lineman went over where the stack of exam papers were, cut it in about half, put his paper in that stack, and put the other top of the stack on. He said, “I sure am glad you don’t know who I am.” When we are in Christ, it doesn’t matter who we are. What matters is whose we are. Whose we are? Who do you belong to? Do you belong to him? In some people, Christ is present. In some people, Christ is prominent. In some people, Christ is preeminent. Christ in you is the hope of glory.
A friend of mine was Campus Minister to University of Arkansas years and years ago. It was the first part of the first semester in the fall. He was with his students that were in his campus ministry, and they were gathered around. They were just having a good time. Out of the clear blue, walks up this young girl. She says, “Are you all Christians?” He says, “Yes, we are.” She said, “Why should I become a Christian?” Interesting question. His approach to her was giving an answer. It was a little bit different than what I could’ve done or would’ve done probably. I could’ve spouted all the theological terms, and all the church words, and all that, but that’s not what Mike did.
Mike said, “I’ll tell you what to do. You hang around us for a month. If you don’t see something in us that’s lacking in your life, then you don’t follow Christ.” That puts a lot of pressure on those folks, right? About two weeks later, the same girl came back. She said, “Not why should I become a Christian, but how do I become a Christian?” Christ in them, Christ in you, the hope of glory. When Christ is in us, the Christ in you meets a Christ-shaped void in the life of someone who’s suffering, then Christ in you can transform that life. They’re transformed. You see, it’s not who you are, it’s whose you are that matters.
My daughter and I were talking yesterday. Right now, we’re talking. She’s going to be speaking at Decherd Methodist Church in a couple of weeks. I was trying to give her a few little pointers and all that kind of stuff, but she doesn’t need my help. She’s talking about being on a team. She said, “Daddy, does it ever dawn on you that we’re on the same team as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Daniel?” We’re on that same team. We’re years down the road, but we’re on the same team, and we are. We’re on that team because Christ in those people changed the world, and Christ in you can change the world as well. We’re on the same team.
She said, “Daddy. We’re on the same team as Billy Graham and Mother Teresa.” That’s the team we’re on because Christ is in us, and Christ was in them. That’s a pretty good team to be on, isn’t it? See, she doesn’t need my help. Christ in you means that you are a channel, and that you are a vessel whereby Christ is taken from one heart and one life to another. A lady came forward at the end of the church service one Sunday and said, “I want to give my heart and life to Jesus.” Everybody that knew her had been praying for her. They were elated.
They said, “Why did you finally come to this point? We’ve been trying to get you to do this for years. Why did you finally come? What happened?” She said, “Well, it was simply this. Mary,” one of her good friends, built a bridge from her heart to mine, and Jesus walked across it.” Christ in you, the hope of glory. Christ in you. He has no plan but us. We are his team. He has no other plan, but except for you and I to allow Christ to dwell in our hearts and in our lives that we become the vessels whereby Christ goes from one heart to another. That’s what it means for Christ to be in us. That is the hope of glory. It’s a mystery.
You’ll be surprised that if you take this seriously, you’ll be surprised where God will lead you. I never thought in all my years since I was sitting in this room – as a six-year-old boy with my granddaddy – that I’d be standing here one day. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that. But, it was because my granddaddy had Christ in his heart, and he brought me here, and he taught me things, that I stand before you today. You’ll never know. You’ll be surprised at where God wants to take you. It won’t always be where you’re comfortable going.
Dr. Wallace Chapel was a friend of mine for many years. Dr. Chapel years ago tells a story that he was preaching a revival down in Birmingham, Alabama. As they were doing the revival, they would do a morning session, and then they would go out and visit. Methodists used to do that. We used to go visit folks and invite them to come to church. Everybody had an assignment where they were going to and visit. Before they left, Dr. Chapel said, “You know, you need to pray about it, and God will go with you.” They go, and make their visits. They come back, and have a testimony time. We used to do that too.
One lady stood and said, “Dr. Chapel. I got to tell you, before we left, you told us to pray.” She said, “To be honest with you, I prayed and prayed. I prayed all the way there.” He said, “What did you pray?” She said, “I prayed there would be nobody home.” He said, “What happened when you got there?” She said the most amazing thing. “God was already there.” You can’t go anywhere God hadn’t already been; but Christ in you – you just have to let him out. Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Sometimes, we’re called to suffer. Sometimes, we’re called to receive persecution. Sometimes, we’ll be ridiculed. Sometimes, they will lie about us, but that really shouldn’t surprise us because Jesus said in the world, “You will have tribulation, but what? Be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” If the one we follow had to go through what he had to go through, what makes us think we’re going to be immune? Did Jesus say, “Look, no scars?” He said, “See the scars.” Discipleship is risky business, discipleship is hazardous to your health; but we follow one who overcame.
Years ago, there was a fighter pilot who had in his plane the President of the United States. This plane that goes faster than we can ever imagine had a little target that it was going to land on. It was a ship out in the ocean. You all remember that? If you saw a landing, you knew that there’s only just a minute room for error. Can you think of the pressure that that pilot was under because his cargo was the leader of the free world? His cargo was the President of the United States. No room for error. What pressure that must have been? Hear me, lean in when I tell you this. You have cargo that is more precious and more valuable than the President of United States. Christ in you is the hope of glory.
I’m not much on bumper stickers. I think most bumper stickers are bad theology. If you’ve got this on your car, just love me anyway. “Got Jesus?” That’s the wrong question. The question is, does Jesus have you? Does Jesus have you because Christ in you is the hope of glory?
Years ago, there was a famous preacher by the name of Dwight L. Moody. Dr. Moody was a preacher’s preacher. They were getting ready to have a revival crusade in the city of Chicago. The leaders from across the church’s denominations decided they would get together, and figure out who God was leading to have this crusade, who is to be the main speaker. It was suggested that Dr. Dwight L. Moody be the preacher. There was at least one opposed to that, and the opposition stated their case. This was the question, “Does Dr. Moody have a monopoly on God?” What a question, but here’s the answer. “No. Dr. Moody does not have a monopoly on God, but God has a monopoly on Dwight L. Moody.” Christ in you, the hope of glory. Does God have a monopoly on your life? I close with this. We’re all Christians if we’ve claimed the name of Christ. Bishop Mac David used to say it like this: “We’ve got to be bold enough to think that we can make a difference. Not everyone can do everything, but everyone can share Jesus.” Christ in you, the hope of glory.
We share in this week, Christ in you because there’s somebody that you’ll see sometime this week that needs to know Christ, and he’s in you. He wasn’t put there just for you, he was put there to be shared. Christ in you, the hope of glory. That’s what the book says, and the book never lies.
Let us pray.
Lord. You have entrusted to us the most precious gift that you’ve ever given to anybody. You’ve entrusted Christ to live in our hearts and in our lives. That just blows our mind. We thank you, and we ask that you’d help us to be good stewards of the Christ who is within us, not that we keep him for ourselves, not that we would have intellectual debate or anything like that, but that we would share this most precious gift that You’ve given us. Help us today to share it. Help us tomorrow to share it. Wherever we go, whatever we do, make Christ in us be seen by others. We’ll be careful to give you praise, and honor, and glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.