United Through the Gospel
By Erin Bird
We started this series all the way back in August when I returned from my sabbatical. For the past three months, we have seen eleven different “facets” of the Gospel – being spiritually born, adopted, reconciled, ransomed, justified, rich, and so many more. (You can catch any you missed or want to re-read over on the Riverwood blog.)
While we could keep going with several more facets, we are going to end on the facet of “unity.” But this facet is like a “two for one deal” because it actually has a double meaning – like two sides of a coin.
United with Christ
The first side of this coin is the unity we experience with God through the Gospel. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6 that we are united with Jesus in both His death and resurrection (verse 5), and we see this beautifully illustrated in the sacrament of baptism (verses 3-4).
This powerful facet lets you know you are never alone at any moment during your time on earth. And when you breathe your last and appear before the Father, Jesus the Son is standing right there next to you. But it is even deeper than that.
To be united with Christ means your identity completely changes. Just like an American bride goes from single to married with a new last name upon exchanging wedding vows, a brand-new Christian goes from “single to united” with a new identity when they place their faith in the Gospel.
This truth means you are not your own. If you are a Christ-follower, you do not have autonomy – you are completely connected to Jesus.
United with Christ-followers
The other side of this “unity” coin is that through the Gospel, Jesus-followers are also united with one another. This is SO important for us to remember, especially in the divisive days in which we find ourselves. If your life is in Christ, you need to know that you…
- spiritually have more in common with someone of the opposite political party than someone in the same party who doesn’t follow Jesus
- are more tied to someone who cheers for the rival of your favorite sports team than your fellow fan who doesn’t know the Gospel
- are far more connected with someone spiritually who is of a different race or different income level than someone with an almost identical background as you
This truth is why the Apostle Paul talked about the Church as being a “body” in 1 Corinthians 12. Some of us may be more like an ear hearing from the Lord, others of us like a hand serving those around us, while still others of us might be more of an elbow jabbing those who are complacent in their faith. 😉 But no matter what role God has called you to, you are part of the Body, united with others through the Gospel.
And because we are united to one another through the Gospel, we need to live out the “one anothers.” You know, like love one another, be patient with one another, carry one another’s burdens, and such. To follow Jesus isn’t a call to solo-Christianity, but rather a call to live in community, helping one another follow Jesus.
So may you this week bask in the beautiful truth that if you are a Jesus-follower, you are united with Christ. But then let that truth bleed into your everyday life, fulfilling the “one anothers” of Scripture because you are united with fellow Jesus-followers.