It is often said that we are in Christ.
And yet, it is also said that he is in us.
What sort of foolishness is that?
I can say that the meat is in the sandwich. But I couldn’t say that the sandwich is inside the meat.
I could say that there is silver in the earings. But how could I say that there is earings in the silver?
Things, normally, exist in an order, a hierarchy. One thing is inside another thing. You can’t, normally, flip this around.
This mystery is illuminated, some, by the reality that Christ and us must be one and the same. But this statement is illumination, not explanation. If it were an ordinary, logical, explanation, a question would arise quite naturally.
“O.K. If you are some how identical with Christ why aren’t you perfect.”
We try hard to be perfect. We try even harder to appear perfect. But we just don’t do it. We can’t.
My wife is amazing with babies. Sometimes I think she has mutant freaky baby-mind control powers. The fussiest of infants will stop whining when she lifts them up. The toddler most utterly determined to fight off her afternoon nap will quickly succumb when in her arms.
Me? Well, to me they seem like little pooping machines. And they can sniff out my disinterest. And they kind-of hate me for it.
Being one flesh doesn’t mean we instantly share one brain. It means we get these opportunities. Oppurtunities to learn and share and submit our own needs. We can take on some of the best of what the other person has to offer when we are brave and wise. We can change for the better; not because we want to be like them, but because the way that they are is the way we should be, too.
I could learn a lot from my wife about how she does it. There’s probably some stuff that she could never explictly teach me. But I know that as time went by, if I was open to learning, that there are things that I would learn from her anyway, even though she maybe couldn’t put them all into words.
And when we fail to take Christ up on these opportunities to learn from him, it might appear that we’re robbing only ourselves. But here is the truth: we are one flesh. We not only lose out on the opportunity to become a better person. We hurt the relationship, we hurt the other person, we make things difficult for the both of us.
This is how it is with Jesus himself. He is in us. We are in him. But he is not us. We are not him. We can learn so much from him. He has so much he wants to offer us. But we must take it on ourselves. We choose it.