Christ in you

Life in the Postmodern Shift

April 27, 2022 | Opinion | Volume 26 Issue 9
Troy Watson | Columnist
(Photo by Fa Barboza/Unsplash)

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 ( is a pastor of Avon Church in Stratford, Ont.

Read more Life in the Postmodern Shift columns:
Good Friday and the important travel companion
Reta-coloured lenses
Solitude and community
She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes
What do I miss about church?

(Photo by Fa Barboza/Unsplash)

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Pastor Troy, can we talk about your statements regarding our oneness with God and what you consider is the only division between us and God?

Isaiah 59:2 tells us that sin separates us from God. We are separated from God until we repent and believe in Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross to pay for our sins. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Do you believe that?

You also expressed according to Ephesians 3, “The mystery of the Gospel is that we are all one with God and humanity.”

I think it’s important to note that in the book of Ephesians, Paul was talking to a body of believers who received Jesus as their Saviour by placing their faith and trust in Him. Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). In light of that, Paul was able to tell the Ephesian church that “we are all one”, because they were a body of believers who were united in Christ.

I can’t think of a more concise passage of the Bible than Romans 8: 9-17, where Paul lets us know what is required for oneness with God. In verse 9, he says, “…you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, IF indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But IF anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Any thoughts in response to what Scripture says on this, Troy?

Elaine, thank you for your comments. You raise good questions and make good points. You cite a number of words, phrases and Bible passages that would require a lengthy essay for me to respond to adequately. For example, Sin, Separation between God and humanity, Belief, Repent, Sacrificial death of Jesus, Saved by grace through faith, Have the Spirit of Christ...What do these words and phrases mean? What does it really mean to “have” the Spirit of Christ? For example.

I can’t succinctly answer this question, but I can tell you the concepts and spiritual truths these words and phrases point to, are absolutely central to my faith. I can only answer one of your questions concisely. “Do I believe these Scripture passages?” The ones you quote? Yes, I do. Can I answer your other questions? I think so. But not in a paragraph. Or even an article.

One of my greatest passions in life, is to try to provide meaningful reflection on such matters, for people like my children, and others, who no longer find meaning in some of the conventional ways we Christians often talk about such deep topics.

This is why I’ve spent the past five years writing a book on these very words and phrases you cite. But it is taking a whole book for a reason. These are huge subjects. My hope and prayer is my book will provide “insights,” or at least another way of looking at these core Christian concepts. So I appreciate your prayers, inviting the Spirit of Christ to help me write about these subjects in ways that encourage and invite others to reflect on the spiritual truths and Scripture passages, that both you and I deeply value.

Thank you for reminding me why I am working so hard to write about these matters in a fresh way. Your comments have been encouraging.

Thank you for your response, Troy. I agree that there is so much more than can and should be said regarding the topic of “Christ in us”.

To try and understand your position regarding “Christ in us”, I listened to your sermon from April 10th, 2022. You made some very bold statements:

- “When you become aware that your true self is oneness with God, you are automatically, your eyes are open to the fact that *everybody’s* true self is oneness with God. *Everyone* is one with God.”

- “…the mystery of the gospel is that the Gentiles, outsiders, the unclean, are members of the same body. We are all one.”

- “…the gospel is that you are one with everyone who is alive, who’s ever lived and who will live. So the mystery of the gospel is about this oneness with God and with one another. So the only division, really, is that there are some people who live in awareness of their true self, their oneness with God and live in that mode and then there are people who don’t. And I don’t even know if that is a division, but it’s a different state of consciousness.”

All of your statements above are diametrically opposed to my interpretation of Romans 8:9, which tells us “…you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, *if* indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But *if* anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (emphases mine). Please let those words speak to you, Troy. Will you change your message?

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