by Nancy Gilmore
Union Life Magazine, February 1980
Paul made an astounding statement when he said that “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17). This union of our spirit with the Spirit of God is the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer in John 17, “that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity.”
The great secret of living that was given to Paul by special revelation is the fact of “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. This was his special emphasis. But what does it mean for Christ to be in us?
Most of us start out by conceiving of God as an old patriarch who lives way off in the skies. Later, when we come into a personal relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ, we learn that instead of living a long distance from us, God lives in us through His Son. Yet we still tend to think of Him as separate from us, even though “in” us.
Paul, however, came to see the glorious truth that for Christ to be in us is for us to be joined as one with Him. There is no separation between us: we have become one spirit, just as He and His Father were one when He walked this earth as Jesus of Nazareth.
Continually Paul spoke of believers as being in Christ. He was referring to this spiritual union. To be “in” Christ is to be joined as one with Him, so that His life is our life.
Using the example of a sponge filled with water to the point that it can absorb nothing else aids me in understanding how two are one. You don’t necessarily see the water, but it’s there. Yet if the sponge is squeezed, the water appears. The water and the sponge are one, but the one does not dissipate the other. And through our life’s experience, as we are “squeezed”, the Holy Spirit flows out. From our innermost being, our spirit, come rivers of living water.
An illustration I like even better is to think of our human spirit as jello (type of sweet pudding dessert) in powdered form. The Spirit of God is the hot water that is added to the jello to make it what it is intended to be. The jello is of no real value until the water is joined to it.
The powdered jello absorbs the water to the extent that it becomes so much a part of it that you can’t tell one from the other. The water is the “fulfillment” of the jello, enabling it to be what it was meant to be. So too with our union with Christ. It looks like me, but it is really Him; even as the jello looks like jello but is really water expressed as jello.
The flavors of the jello might represent our individuality. Grape is Nancy, peach is Marj, cherry is Jody, orange is Jenny, and strawberry is Mary Ann. We’re all the same, and yet we’re all different. Many flavors, but the same filling. Each of us is one spirit with the Lord, yet expressed in different ways. And of course we’re all in different molds, different bodies, with our various shapes and sizes and unique characteristics.
When Paul spoke of Christ as being “in” us, he meant that when we live it is really Christ living. For Him to live was Christ! He was simply the particular flavor of jello in which Christ chose to express Himself – Christ in Paul form.
Jesus was a unique expression of the Father. And He prayed that we might be unique expressions of Him! “That they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity”. His name was Immanuel, “God with us”. For Him to live was God; so too for us to live is Christ. He lives as us, expressing Himself through us just as the Father expressed Himself through Him. This is the meaning of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”