At the heart of the Christ path is a radical notion that our true identity is found in Christ. Paul says it is no longer he who lives, but Christ who lives in him. He says our true identity, our true self, is “Christ in you.” What does this mean?
Some theologians refer to the Incarnation as the Christ event. Christ is not Jesus’ last name, obviously. Christ is a title that refers to the incarnational self of Jesus, namely, the union of divinity and humanity in his person.
“Christ in you” is the union of divinity and humanity in your person. It is the essential self within you, where divinity and humanity are one. As 13th-century theologian Meister Eckhart wrote: “The eye with which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”
At Pentecost, we celebrate Spirit baptism, which is the moment you become aware of your true self, which is “Christ in you.” In fact, baptizo, the Greek word for “baptize,” means “to merge.” Spirit baptism awakens us to our merged self, our oneness with God.
In John 17, Jesus talks about this mysterious oneness with God right before he was arrested and crucified. He says that we can experience the same oneness with God that he experienced. Paul refers to this oneness with God, that Jesus talked about, as “Christ in you.”
I grew up in a Christian church that encouraged us to “accept Jesus into our hearts.” This image of “accepting Jesus into your heart” can be a helpful way of thinking about “Christ in you” at a certain point of your faith formation and spiritual development.
However, what does it actually mean to accept Jesus into your heart? I don’t think anyone believes Jesus, the human being who lived 2,000 years ago, magically shrinks, enters your blood stream like a little nano-Jesus, and moves into your heart.
The concept of “accepting Jesus into your heart” is acknowledging that the same Spirit that lived in Jesus, lives in you and in me. Spirit baptism is a spiritual awakening when you become conscious of “Christ in you,” aware that the Spirit of Christ, the same Spirit who lived in Jesus, resides in your inner being as your true identity, your true self.
Christians recognize “Christ in Jesus.” We see the union of divinity and humanity in Jesus, and exalt him, because we see this so clearly. However, the mystery of the Gospel, as Paul explains in Colossians 1, is to see “Christ in you,” not just in Jesus. It is interesting that Paul says this mystery of the Gospel was hidden for ages. This means that the mystery of “Christ in us” was a reality before Jesus was ever born. In fact, Jesus came to reveal what “Christ in you” looks like.
Your true self is “Christ in you,” but that doesn’t mean your true self is God. Your true self is oneness with God. This is an important distinction. God is infinite; you are not. You are a finite creation that is one with God, and you become aware of your true self when you become conscious of your oneness with God.
When you become aware of your oneness with God, you become simultaneously aware that all humans are one with God, even if they aren’t aware of it. In Ephesians 3, Paul says the mystery of the Gospel is that we are all members of one body, we are all one. The mystery of the Gospel is that we are all one with God and humanity.
The only division between us, if you can call it that, is that there are those who are aware of our collective oneness with God, and those who are not.
In his first letter, John says we cannot love God if we don’t love other human beings. If you say you love God but do not love your fellow humans, you are a liar. If anyone does not love their fellow humans, they cannot love God. Loving God and loving humanity are interconnected because we are all one with God and one another.
This “divine oneness” can be a confusing “mystical” teaching, but it is central to the way of Jesus. And to experience this mystical reality changes everything. More on that in my next column.
Troy Watson (email@example.com) is a pastor of Avon Church in Stratford, Ont.
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