Tom Gilson

What Christ Does For Us, Part 11: Life in Christ

We saw in earlier posts in this series that Jesus Christ lived to show us the way to live, died to rescue us from the trouble we have gotten into by not living right, and rose again to defeat death and to give new life. Christians believe in eternal life for those accept it from God, but just to say life never ends is not enough. Life in Christ begins the moment one receives it from Him.

And this takes us back full circle to where we started. The question was whether we really need Christ for day-to-day living:

The thing that bugs me about this is that it’s so anti-humanistic. Humility I can understand, but, to me, this is perverse.

When people achieve difficult objectives, they ought to get credit for doing so.

I hate the way Christianity tells people they’re nothing, makes them feel bad, then offers them a convenient promise to soothe their soul. And to top it off, Christianity takes credit for any success those people have at solving their own problems.

Sure, we can solve many of our own problems. We can (many of us) keep jobs, take care of our homes, have families and enjoy them, deal with pain in our lives, contribute to a better world. Not all of us have that capacity, but certainly many do who are not Christians, and not all believers are successful with all these things.

So yes, it’s possible to make it on your own, with discipline and some good luck (your genes, your socio-educational background, and the opportunities you meet). And you can get credit for that, which I would not deny.

Credit is a key issue, though. To give oneself the credit for where one is in life misses most of the point. The Bible asks, “What do you have that you were not given?” The good luck I mentioned above–how much of it can you take credit for? Suppose you’re a college graduate–did you make it there because you’re smarter or better than the farmer in Thailand, or the inner-city youth with no hope of college? Even if you could say yes to that, how did you come to be smarter or better? What do you have that you were not given?

The Christian life takes a radically different stance on human accomplishment than this. We take all of it, even our own successes, as grounds for giving thanks to God. We understand the mess we were in. We understand the sacrifice He made for us. We know we are dependent on God.

Is this “anti-humanistic”? Well, we also know that God created us in an incredibly privileged position of relationship with Him. We have dignity from being in His image; dignity that far outshines what evolution would say we are. We know that we are loved, and that love has real meaning–it’s not just evo-psych and brain chemicals. We know that among the things God has given us, there is personal responsibility for our choices, and that our choices matter for eternity. The most basic choice of all, of course, is what will we do with what we know about God?

Sure, it’s paradoxical–it’s both humbling and exalted. The Bible even says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

In the meantime, there is considerable evidence that this paradoxical life is a good one: that humbling ourselves before Christ leads to greater emotional, relational, and spiritual health, and to success in other terms besides. Perverse? Anti-humanistic? I don’t think so. For me, it’s a matter of recognizing what is true, and enjoying the love of God as I live in His light.

Part of a Series: What Christ Does For Us

Related: How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions. This post elicited a short question, to which I’m writing a very long answer in the form of this series.

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3 thoughts on “What Christ Does For Us, Part 11: Life in Christ

  1. Tom,

    You are to be complimented on your presentation in this series. It is very much in the spirit of Lewis’ Mere Christianity. You did not go too far in any direction over which there is a great deal of disagreement among the major confessions.

    Some of the points made in the comments have been somewhat humorous because there was a general failure (or refusal) to recognize the intent of the work. You were explaining the basic tenets of Christianity and not justifying them in a broader sense. An explanation is not an apologia, so I saw no reason for some of the disputes.

    It was only the older comments that I thought myself prepared to rejoin, but as these were over a month old, I abstained. There is much worth debating, but this series clearly was not intended for such a purpose.

    Again, you are to be commended for the work.

    Kind regards,

  2. We take all of it, even our own successes, as grounds for giving thanks to God. We understand the mess we were in. We understand the sacrifice He made for us. We know we are dependent on God.

    It seems simple enough, right? I don’t understand why DL raised the complaint he did to begin with. I mean, does DL thank his parents/teacher/coach for certain things in life even though he did the actual work himself? I hope so.

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