On the Difference between Difficult and Impossible

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Colossians 2:11–12

In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

CONSIDER THIS

The Christian life, or as Paul will describe it to the Colossians, “the life hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3), is not difficult. It is impossible. Maybe this is our biggest problem. We think it is difficult, and because of this, we resolve ourselves to try harder. When we come up short again and again, we consider it too difficult and settle back in to a life of easy believism, cheap grace, and self-satisfied, mediocre, compromised existence.

The Christian life is not difficult. This would be to evaluate it on our terms. The Christian life is impossible. It does not require more effort on a human level. It requires the movement to an eternal level of living. Jesus’ invitation to us is not meant to elicit more resolve but deeper surrender. It’s why he said things like, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30).

Paul wants to awaken us not to the possibility of redemption but the fact of it: “Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ” (v. 2:11b).

Circumcision was the mark of the old covenant. Baptism is the mark of the new covenant. While baptism is an outward sign, it signifies something decisively done by the very hand of God—the circumcision of the heart. 

Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. (vv. 11b–12)

My faith in the working of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, must translate into my faith in the working of God, who raised me from the dead, and all the incredible implications of such a resurrection. This is the plane of eternal life. This is the substance of real Christianity.

We happen to be living in an era of human history and even church history where real Christianity has been traded in for a cheap substitute, an easy counterfeit. It should be no surprise that this coincides with the rise of a generation who characterizes their religious affiliation with the word none. They are the “nones.” What this means is they will have none of the brand of faith we are offering. Can we blame them? They want something authentic. Though they don’t know it, what they want is real Christianity.

Who will show it to them? Whoever will awaken to the fact of an already accomplished redemption and the necessity of a few other people to help them receive this death-and-resurrection-real-Christian-reality fully into their lives.

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who not only has done it, but who is it. He is our redemption. He is our death and our resurrection. Awaken me to my life hidden with Christ in God and your readiness to reveal it to others through me. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. Could our struggle to live the Christian life be connected to the lack of a deep reality of Christ in us?
  2. Could the shallowness of “Christ in me” be connected to a lack of deep faith-formational relationships with others?
  3. What does it mean to you to awaken, not to the possibility of redemption, but the fact of it, and to move from endless struggle with sin to victory over sin?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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5 COMMENTS

  1. The shallowness of our faith, the lack of an abundance of spiritual fruit (clear reflection of Christ in me), brings to mind the parable of the sower. Perhaps the true source of our problem to fully live out our calling to fully live out the reality of “the life hid with Christ in God” is that there are too many weeds in our soil. Just as a garden plot cannot weed itself, we cannot rid ourselves of the residue of our inherited sin nature. This is where the class/band of a an intentional faith community comes into play. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, they would be the ones who will weed, cultivate and water our garden. Every member has a function, some sow, others cultivate, still others water, but God makes the garden grow.A healthy productive garden reveals victory over the weeds.

  2. I would speculate that to fully live in the spirit, and Christ in us, is improbable, but not impossible.
    If it was impossible God’s Word wouldn’t tell us to be-
    1 Peter 1:16
    Since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
    Matthew 19:26
    But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    Meaning we can’t be holy in ourselves or save ourselves. Because the self is the problem. When we are born again, our spirit comes alive with the Holy Spirit, and our sinful nature (flesh) fights to survive. Like a game of tug-o-war, our souls are the rope being pulled between the desires of the flesh and the righteousness of God. Only because of Christ can we begin to weaken the grip of the evil one. Know this, as we live in this plane of reality, as God never gives up on us, and the evil will never give up tempting and scheming. But, because of Christ’s victory over the evil one, we can live in victory instead of fighting for victory. That is a major change of a spiritual position.

  3. To grow in grace
    We must
    Continually and humbly trust
    In the working of God,
    Knowing that our effort
    Is mere dust.
    It’s not enough to discuss
    “Christ in you.”
    We must readjust
    Our lifestyle to His presence.

  4. I think the answer to Q1 is contained within Q1.
    It is indeed Christ in us we need, rather than a Christian life. Once again Christian is not an adjective as you have previously pointed out. A better description is Christ-followers.

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