People define themselves in different ways. For example, one person might think of himself as an athlete. In his own mind, that’s who he is. Someone else might think of himself as a businessman. He defines himself in terms of his business. Yet another person might define herself as a mother. She is wrapped up in her children. We all tend to pigeonhole, not only ourselves, but each other by physical characteristics, personality traits or career choices.
This raises an interesting question: Who are we, really? What is our chief characteristic? How do we define ourselves? There’s a phrase in Colossians 3:4 which really jumped out at me: The NIV renders it “...Christ, who is your life...” Other translations say, “...Christ, who is our life...”
But in what sense is Christ our life? Of course, if you are not in Christ; if you are not a Christian, then Christ is not your life in any sense. (Unless you include the fact that your physical body will one day be raised from the dead.) So, we need to rephrase the question to ask in what sense is Christ our life for those of us who are Christians?
One way in which Christ is our life is that He is who we live for. Just as a person who defines himself as an athlete pursues sport, so we should pursue Christ. We think about Him. We talk about Him. We try to discover more about Him. We try to do what He wants.
Another sense in which Christ is our life is that it is God’s purpose and will that we become like Christ. There are many Scriptures which bear this out. For example, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:49, “...just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” (NIV)
A third sense in which Christ is our life is that He rescued us from death through His sacrifice. Jesus said that He came, “...to give his life as a ransom for many.” (John 20:28 NIV) In speaking of those who choose to follow Him, Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish...” (John 10:28 NIV)
Though Christ is our life, there is a condition attached. In order for Him to be our life, we must remain in Him. Jesus put it this way, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 15:4-6 NIV)
It’s important for us to remember that Christ is our life. It’s important that we remember that we must remain in Him. It’s important that we remember what Christ did so that He can be our life. That’s what the bread and the juice we eat and drink each Lord’s Day are designed to do – to help us remember that it is only through Christ and His sacrifice that we have life. As we partake today, let’s remember that Christ, and Christ only, is our life and renew our commitment to remain in Him.