“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ ... And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy" (Hos. 2:16, 19).
The Bible also gives the illustration of Christ as the vine in which believers are the branches: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. ... 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. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-2, 4-5).
"And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way" (Eph. 1:22-23).
All three of these illustrations point to the intimate union between Christ and His church. Colossians 1:17 says that Christ “is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” We are in Him, and He holds it all in unity. If you belong to God, then you are supernaturally connected to Christ along with all of God's children.
Instead of seeing myself as connected to Christ at all times, I used to view my relationship with God in terms of intersecting moments during the day. The more times my life intersected with God in a given week, the more “spiritual” I thought I was. In that paradigm, God went on His way and I went on my way until we intersected at some corner on some future day.
Instead, I have learned to think of myself walking with Jesus continually, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Our daily walk together is not just parallel but actually intertwined. I, of course, do not take full advantage of that walk with Him all day every day, but I am learning that it is indeed my reality, and the more I am aware of it, the more stable I am emotionally and spiritually. If you are a believer, God is with you, in you, holding you together at all times. The goal is for us to be aware of that reality and live like it is true, for Christ warns us that apart from Him we can do nothing.
In John 15, when talking of the vine and branches, Christ says, “Abide in Me.” The Greek word for abide is meno, meaning "to remain, tarry, be held or be kept continually." There are two mental pictures in the Bible that seem to contradict each other.
We just discussed those pictures that show us united with God the Son, Jesus Christ. But the Bible also invites us to boldly and confidently enter the presence of God the Father at His Throne of Grace. Instead of contradicting each other, these pictures enhance each other in my mind.
We are children of God who are both passively connected to God and actively encouraged to seek His presence. These dueling images of abiding free us from both legalism and apathy. I am kept secure in Christ through no work of my own, yet God calls me to actively participate in using the resources provided to me through this union.
Christ is my perfect Bridegroom. I am connected to Him as a branch is to a vine and as a body is to its head. From Him, I get the nourishment I need to live out my part in His larger story. He is the answer to the misplaced desires predicted for women in the curse of Genesis 3:16.
He nourishes, sustains and equips you and I. God, through Jesus, affirms us, speaking deep words of grace and purpose over us. The core longings of our hearts for relationship and identity are perfectly fulfilled in Him. I encourage you to take time to read the entirety of Paul's beautiful description in Ephesians 1 of the blessings from this union we have with Christ.
This is an excerpt from The Gospel-Centered Woman by Wendy Alsup ©2013 used with permission. Alsup is a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women. Visit her website at theologyforwomen.org.
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