Hopefully that title wasn’t too subtle that people missed the difference. Like almost every Christian I agree that we should “Keep Christ in Christmas”. But, is America attempting to remove Christ from Christmas because we, the body of Christ, have not kept Christ in us?
Without getting to deep into theology, let’s consider what Jesus told his faithful disciples who still remained at the “Last Supper” before His death. In John 14-17, Jesus gives us His most intimate message that was not given to the religious Pharisees, Judas or the miracle seeking masses. These passages have many profound promises and beautiful prayers that we need to grow in understanding but, I want to articulate a few truths.
Christ in us.-
We know that Christ is in us after we have been “born again” and receive the Holy Spirit. I believe that it is absolutely necessary to be fully convinced that He will never leave us or forsake us after this.
Abiding in Christ-
John 15:4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. “
This is not automatic. Jesus makes it very clear to the faithful disciples that they must continue to abide in Him and His words abide in them. This is a lifelong process. It’s not an event that happens once (unlike being born again) and then has been established forever. We must continue to run the race with patience and endurance.
How do we know that this is not an automatic guarantee? Jesus said in John 15:6 “If a man doesn’t remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Notice that we must remain. Not simply become a part of the vine…(being born-again)…but, abide/remain in Him. I don’t believe that the threat of being thrown into the fire speaks of “eternal hell” as we have been told but, fiery trials of life.
Fire purifies, gold and silver. It cleanses it for the purpose of refining it into something beautiful and useful. That is the type of fire that a Christian can expect if they are not “abiding in the vine.” Not destructive fire…cleansing fire. “For everyone will be salted with fire.”
Us in Christ-
When we abide, we begin to live in Christ. The New Testament is full of different descriptions of what it means to live in Christ; probably because there is no perfect way to fully describe the existence of us living in God and manifesting Him to the world. But, “Being lead by the Holy Spirit”, “Having Christ formed in us” and abiding in Jesus and Him abiding in us all speak of an existence that does not simply “happen” to every Christian. We must fight this good fight of faith and KEEP His Word of patient endurance and not deny His name. (Rev.3:8-10)
In our culture, keeping His Word of patient endurance has been largely overlooked and that is a huge part of the neglect of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives and churches. I am not just talking about miracles, healings, signs, wonders, prophecy, etc…but, also TRUE abiding fruit of the Spirit. This fruit starts with pruning, which encourages growth in holiness and righteousness and matures into outward expressions of Spiritual fruit (Gal.5:22,23).
Many of the promises that are often haphazardly claimed by well-meaning believers are promised to those who are “in Christ.” Yes, “He makes everything work out for the good…of those who agape/love Him and are called according to His purpose for them!” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”
Yes, we can ask anything in Jesus’ name and it will be given to us..”If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7
The promises of God are all faithful and true but, many of them have strict stipulations that we should be aware of. One of my favorites is that “His grace is sufficient for me.” Because the best part of abiding in Him and Him in us is that “He is the one working in us, giving us the desire and the power to do what please Him!” (Phillipians 2:13-NLT)