Glimpses of Grace and Truth...One of Paul’s greatest gifts was the idea of “Christ in You.” In Paul’s time, the closest that God came to humanity was through Israel’s Temple. Even then, God’s presence was filtered by a sophisticated system of sacrifices and further restricted by the Holy of Holies
which was allowed to be entered only once per year and only by the High Priest. But Paul is now saying that God’s presence is not only closer to us as humans, but actually within us. “Christ in you” means God is closer to us than humanity ever imagined possible.
And yet as Paul gives this wonderful news about God’s presence within us, he’s also crystal clear that this glory of God is contained in a jar of clay. Because the human body is comprised of “clay” (earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust), this body is fragile and frail, most often is noticeably broken or at least breaking down, decaying and eventually dying. And yet, miracle of miracles, this jar of clay does contain the grace and glory of God so that others in the world may finally recognize God’s grace, glory, and love for them.
So let’s get this down to the practical level: what does it mean for daily life? First, “Christ in you” means that God’s glory is an eternal light shining inside all of us who are in Christ. We must remember that this light is a gift meant to shine not for our sakes alone, but for the sake of others who have not yet encountered God’s grace, love, and glory. For the local church, and for all members who are part of that local Body of Christ, this means we are called, instructed, and urged to get outside our walls and shine God’s light into the world. Hopefully we will all notice our leaders inviting us to join them in getting out into the community and reaching those who have not yet fully grasped God’s love for them. Our mission, to help everyone come to know, love, share, and serve Christ, is best fulfilled when we get out into the world.
Second, Christ in you means we are called to serve Christ. As Dakota works with our new associate Matthew Hampton over the summer, strengthening our blended style of worship, they need help. So rather than thinking, “I’ll wait and see what it sounds like before I help,” begin saying to yourself, “whether this effort is a smooth success, or a very bumpy ride, I’ll give God my very best to help.” Be sure to approach Dakota or Matthew in coming weeks and say, “Here’s what I can do for music—how can I help?” Or approach Deb Lowrance and Jodie Bevis over the summer and say, “Here’s what I can do to help with teaching or assisting with classes, small groups or mentoring, so how can I help your Discipleship Team this fall?”
Or go to Whitney, Brandi, Carrie or one of the Kristen’s over the coming days and say, “Here’s what I can do with children. I’ll gladly do training and background checks to keep our kids safe—how can I help?” All of us should be serving Christ somewhere.
Finally, Christ must be the main thing. After she’d been serving in Calcutta for many years, Mother Teresa’s ministry began to be joined by many. At one point, she was approached by a brother from a monastic order, who wanted to join her order because, as he said, his superior “had rules,” which he felt, “were interfering with his ministry.” So he explained, "My vocation is to work for lepers. I want to spend myself for the lepers." With her loving but deeply penetrating eyes, she looked him eye to eye for a minute, then smiled and gently said, "Your vocation is not to work for lepers, your vocation is to belong to Jesus." Christ in You means that God’s glory shines through us into the world, that we must all be serving somewhere and that the main thing for us all is Christ. Look forward to seeing you on Sunday but also many more times as we serve Christ inside and outside our walls.
Sincerely in the grace, peace and service of Christ: Ed & the First UMC Family