With Christ

“A light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel. [. . .] Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 1:32, 34b–35 ESV)

The apostle Paul, writing to a small congregation in a declining community, begins one of his letters from prison reminding his readers of our faith “in Christ.” By my count, he references being “in Christ/him” at least a dozen times in the first chapter and a half of Colossians.

But then in the middle of the second chapter, Paul shifts prepositions from “in” to “with.” It’s not just “in” but also “with” Christ that we find our identity. Paul describes, as those who follow Jesus, what we share with Christ. His list of “with Christ” statements highlights our new reality. He frames the first several around baptism.

We are buried with Christ (2:12). Buried indicates not just “mostly dead,” but “all dead” to what was.

We are raised with Christ (2:12; 3:1). As death is defeated, so is sin.

We are made alive (together) with Christ (2:13). Where there is forgiveness of sin, there is now life.

We have died with Christ (2:20). Not only do we need not fear the powers of this world, but there are no actions that earn us more favor with God.

We are hidden with Christ (3:3). The Father has us. We are secure in him.

We will be revealed with Christ in glory (3:4). Christ’s second advent will ultimately lead to his followers sharing in that glory.

Immanuel, God with us, is also us being with him, identifying with his acts of redemption in the cross, the tomb (occupied, then empty), the resurrection, the defeat of death, his ascension, and ultimately his return.

God is with us. The inverse, our being with Christ, is not a typical thought during Advent, yet it is hinted in the words of Simeon and others.

It is with Christ where we discover that for which our hearts truly long. It is as we live with Christ that we come to understand his good work in us and through us. It is with Christ we learn we cannot impress the one who already loves us and has freed us. It is with Christ we celebrate he is not only King but displays his Kingship through us in our relationships, our words, our actions to draw others to him.

“O come let us adore him, Christ, the Lord.”

Randy Jaspers is the regional minister for the NAB’s Northern Plains Region.