Union with Christ is an immensely important Christian doctrine. St. Paul refers to it 216 times in the New Testament! But it isn’t there just so we can read about it. The Word (Jesus himself!) is in us so that worship will come from us. The amazing reality of our union with Christ should lead us to worship.
1. The Word in Us
Philip Graham Ryken defines union with Christ this way: “The doctrine of union with Christ teaches that the Holy Spirit joins believers to Jesus by faith, and that by virtue of this spiritual bond we both receive Christ himself and all his benefits.” What does it mean to receive Christ and all his benefits? It means:
We receive his life (John 15:3-7).
We receive his love (Ephesians 5:25-33).
We receive his presence (Ephesians 2:19-22)
These are transformative truths. We were dead, but are now alive! We were alienated from God, but no enjoy his generous love! We were alone and without hope, but now enjoy his presence! And they should lead us to worship.
2. Worship From Us
When Abraham Lincoln first visited Richmond, VA, toward the end of the Civil War, a group of freed slaves surround him and knelt to him. The transformation they enjoyed––from slavery to freedom––led them to worship. It should be much more so with us who have, not a president to free us, but God himself who has chosen to make his home with us in Christ! The Word in us should lead us to worship.
Reflection and Discussion Questions
Can you think of any places in the New Testament that teaches our union with Christ? Are there any indications of a future union with Christ in the Old Testament?
Do you believe you are spiritually dead without being united to Christ? What difference does this make in the way you see yourself? God?
Why does Paul use such intimate language to describe God’s love for us in Ephesians 5?
How should God’s presence with us lead us to be transformed in our lives?
Do you believe that your real life is with Christ in heaven? How should this change the way you see the everyday details of your life?
Do you believe that your neighbors who don’t know Christ are spiritually dead and alienated from God? How should your union with Christ change the way you see them? How should it change the way you treat them?
How is the church a training ground for living as if your union with Christ is true?