Behind the lessons
When the writers of the Bible talk about someone who is a Christian, they often describe them as being “in Christ” or use the phrase “Christ in you”. This is because Christianity is not primarily a religious system, or a collection of advice about how to solve problems. It is about a relationship with God where you experience the life of Christ, living in you.
Becoming a believer is like being born into a very wealthy family. The moment you enter this family you have all the resources of your Father available to you. This wealth includes things like wisdom, power, forgiveness, blessing, direction, purpose, and a long list of other riches you can draw on every day. In fact, they include every spiritual blessing you can imagine! You have these things because Christ paid for them – they are yours “in Christ”.
However just like a baby may not understand what he has, or be able to use it, so a new believer is often unaware of the significance of being born into God’s family. Just because these resources belong to us doesn’t mean we are aware of them, or are experiencing them. Only as we grow and mature can we understand and receive our Father’s riches so that they become a daily reality.
This is what happens when life “in Christ” (what I received the moment I was reborn spiritually) becomes “Christ in me” (spiritual blessings and life that I experience every day).
Paul summarized this process of growth in Col. 2:6-7, “Since then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
In Elements we will use a picture of a tree to represent this verse. When you accepted Christ you were placed in the “soil” of his riches. You became alive because he is living in you. The first two lessons will talk about this new life, and what it means to be in him.
This life, however, needs to be nourished and to grow. You need to be “rooted and built up in him.” The Bible talks about four main channels that nourish the life of Christ in me. They are: talking to God (Prayer), God’s word (the Bible), Community, and the Holy Spirit. Just like the roots of a tree, these four things feed me spiritually and help me grow healthy and strong. They are often not seen by others (like roots below the ground), but they will be the things that hold me firm and give me spiritual food every day. Lessons 3-6 will show you how these roots work.
The life of Christ also needs to flow out of us. Just like it is not healthy for a baby to just eat and never play or express themselves, so your relationship with Christ was not meant to just stay inside you. The four roots are designed to flow into the trunk and then produce branches that reach for the sun and bear refreshing fruit.
There are also four main ways that the life of Christ should be expressed through your life. Your behavior should start to change as you learn to respond to God’s instructions in “obedience”. Your relationships with others should grow as you learn “loving service”. Your love for God should express itself through “worship”, and you should be helping others come to know God as you share about my faith in him (evangelism). Lessons 7-10 cover these four branches, and show how the life of Christ in you should bear fruit.