A few days ago, I got an email from a reader who asked me a simple, yet penetratingly deep theological question. She asked, “If we, as the Church, are the Bride of Christ, and therefore Christ is the groom, does that imply that we are to become one with Christ? And if this is true, what does becoming one with Christ mean?”
At first, I shook my head because after three years of Bible college, preceded by two years with various missions organizations, this language was commonly understood. Of course union with Christ is the central tenet of our Christianity! There is nothing else!
But then I had another realization. That is, not everyone has the benefits I have had of learning everything I have been able to through the various schools I’ve attended, and I need to quit being a pedantic jerk about it.
The very least I can do is begin a series of theological blogs to help share some of the truth I’ve accrued the past several years. They may not rake in the clicks like my posts on porn or singleness, but I really want to create them for the sake of helping people learn more about Christ.
Many people have this notion about Christianity that what we know doesn’t really matter, as long as we love Jesus, but I could not disagree more.
I always recite John 4:24 to people, where Jesus says, “Believers will worship in spirit and in truth.” Truth is not more valuable than the spirit with which we worship, nor vice versa. Having the truth without the spirit is just dry and human effort to connect to abstract facts, but having spirit without truth is how cults are made. It’s running fast on ‘spirit juice,’ but not always in the right direction.
Additionally, in Hosea 4:6, God says that “my people perish for a lack of knowledge.” Evidently, there is ample value given to true knowledge that leads to life and a closer walk with the Lord, and that’s why I will be writing several of these theologically-oriented posts.
May they be beneficial!
For this first one, I want to answer and expand on the great question posed by my reader: Essentially, what is union with Christ?
Not only is this one of the biggest and most overwhelming of theological topics, but it is the root from which nearly all other theological dialogue stems. So I will do my best at a crash course.
I think that in order to begin thinking about how unio Christi plays into our salvation, we need to first think about the nature of God. And how is it that we primarily describe Him? Is it as the eternal? If this is the case, He is very impersonal and cold. As the Creator? With this in mind, He is eternally dependent on His creation.
No, When we think of God’s identity, we must first see Him as a Father from whom all love and good things come. Because when we see Him as a Father, we see Jesus rightly as the Son. (It is worth noting that there is no hierarchy within the Trinity. The Father is not greater, or more God than the Son or the Spirit.)
So, if the Father is eternally loving the Son and giving Him good things, what does that have to do with us?
The Bible uses a lot of familial language to describe aspects of our salvation. We are the Bride of Christ; we are sons of God. By binding ourselves to Christ (through the Holy Spirit), we then become recipients of the Father’s love.
Think of it in human terms: Picture a great, loving father who loves his son. One day, his son is grown and comes home with a girl. They eventually get married and the new daughter-in-law receives all the blessings the son did. By binding herself to the son, the wife is now included in the family and gets all the perks (like the family’s social status, financial blessing, et cetera).
When we are saved by Christ, we are bound to Him in such a way that we become participants in the Father-Child relationship that has existed within the Trinity for all eternity past. This is why the Bible is not an instruction manual, and Christianity is not just a label or a collection of rule-followers.
Christianity is a participation in the greatest relationship in the universe. The Trinity allows for an invitation into this relationship, whereas single-person gods (such as Allah) have no relationship to invite us into. They are lonely for eternity past, where the Trinity has been in loving relationship for as long as they can remember (which is…a long time.)
This helps explain why Allah seems to be more of a harsh judge than a loving entity. A solo god wouldn’t know how to interact with another being, whereas the Trinity has been practicing love for, well, forever. And creation is an overflow of that loving relationship. (Kind of like how a baby is the ‘overflow’ of love between a husband and wife.)
So, is uniting ourselves to Christ important? Well, yes. From it springs all other aspects of our salvation. Picture a spider. The body of the arachnid is our unio Christi and all the legs extending from the center are the other elements of that relationship. Our sanctification is rooted in our bond with Christ. Our justification is rooted in our bond with Christ. And so on.
To be continued!