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In Christ

"For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself..." 2 Corinthians 5.19

Encountering the risen and glorified Jesus on the Road to Damascus was, for Saul the Jew turned Paul the apostle, the turning point in his life. In that moment he was disarmed and disabled but, through his rescue and recovery, he acquired a fresh identity and a new purpose. The catch-phrase which features in all his letters which are preserved in the New Testament (with the exception of Titus) is "in Christ" - or a variant thereof. But scholars turn cartwheels in their attempt to define what this means.

Paul uses "in Christ" in (at least) two ways: subjectively, to describe a person's status as a believer, and objectively, to describe the effect of Jesus' presence. In and through Christ things are done and lives are changed. He is the power-source, the game-changer, the "sine qua non" because, according to Paul, everything which happens outside of Christ is useless and ephemeral. The fact that he presents God's whole scheme of salvation as happening "in/ through Jesus Christ" demonstrates just how total is Paul's conviction on this point.

Does that affect the way we understand our own life, purpose, future? If Paul is correct it must. Yet it is an uncompromising vision, for it challenges us to assess all of our choices, impulses, beliefs according to whether or not they are "in Christ". Yet, if we are convinced that Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, why would we settle for anything else?



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