It’s not unusual for us to encounter difficulties in our relationships with others—our spouse, our child, a classmate, or a coworker, for instance. Perhaps we’ve asked the Lord to help us navigate the situation by praying, “Lord, grant me wisdom to deal with my son,” or “Lord, help me be patient with this person.” But in spite of our prayers, we still struggle.
Why doesn’t the Lord give us wisdom or patience? After all, these are good things. To answer this, we have to see that God isn’t interested in giving us things. God gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, to be everything to us.
Distracted from Christ
At the apostle Paul’s time the believers in Colossae were distracted from Christ by matters like asceticism, the keeping of Jewish ordinances, the worship of angels, and elements of Greek philosophy.
Wanting to bring them back to Christ, Paul wrote these words in Colossians 2:16-17:
“Let no one therefore judge you in eating and in drinking or in respect of a feast or of a new moon or of the Sabbath, which are a shadow of the things to come, but the body is of Christ.”
Notes 2 and 3 on verse 17 in the New Testament Recovery Version help us understand this passage:
Note 2 on body tells us, “As with man’s physical body, the body here is the substance. And like the shadow of a man’s body, the rituals in the law are a shadow of the real things in the gospel.”
Note 3 on Christ says, “Christ is the reality of the gospel. All the good things in the gospel belong to Him and are Him.”
Every positive thing, including all the virtues we seek—are merely shadows. The body—the substance, the reality—of those things is a living person, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Like the Colossians, we also can be distracted from Christ Himself to things, even good things like wisdom, love, and patience. We need to realize that Christ wants us to experience Him as the reality of all we need.
Christ in us is our life
To experience Christ as the reality of all the positive things we seek, we need to first realize Christ is living in us. In Colossians 1:27 Paul declares this tremendous fact, “Christ in you.” How wonderful that we redeemed ones actually have Christ living in us, in our spirit!
After stating that Christ is in us, Paul goes on in Colossians 3:4 to use the expression “Christ our life.” The Christ who is in us is now our life. Let’s see more about this in note 1 for Christ in the Recovery Version:
“That Christ is our life is a strong indication that we are to take Him as life and live by Him, that we are to live Him in our daily life in order to experience the universally extensive Christ revealed in this book, so that all He is and has attained and obtained will not remain objective but will become our subjective experience.”
By taking Christ as our life and living by Him, not by ourselves, we can subjectively experience Him in every aspect of our daily life. Instead of expecting to receive something from Him, such as wisdom or patience, we can experience Him as the wisdom or patience we need.
In Colossians 3 Paul speaks of three ways we can take Christ as our life and live by Him.
1. Colossians 3:15: “Let the peace of Christ arbitrate in your hearts.”
From the Recovery Version note on arbitrate we see that to arbitrate means to “umpire, preside, be enthroned as a ruler and decider of everything.”
When we’re living by Christ, we have a sense of peace. This is a guide to us. As we go through our daily life we can sense whether we have peace or unrest. For example, let’s say we begin to argue with our spouse. The more we argue and try to prove our point, the more we feel unrest. That feeling indicates we’re not living by Christ. If we inwardly pray, “Okay Lord, You’re my life. I want to live by You as I’m with my spouse,” we stop arguing, and the sense of peace returns. The presence or absence of peace tells us whether we’re living by Christ or not. When we feel unease, we can turn back to Him to take Him as our life.
2. Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
Another way for us to take Christ as our life and live by Him is by letting the word of Christ dwell in us, even richly. This certainly means more than merely reading the Bible in a mental way. Let’s read the note for dwell:
“Lit., to be in a house, to indwell, to inhabit. The word of the Lord must have adequate room within us that it may operate and minister the riches of Christ into our inner being.”
By coming to the Word with our spirit, praying over it, and musing on it, we give the word of Christ the room to dwell in us. Spending time daily to touch the Spirit in the Bible with our spirit allows His Word to inhabit us in a deeper way. Without needing to pray for patience, Christ Himself as patience is ministered into us, and we can live Christ out as our patience.
3. Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do in word or in deed, do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
The note for name in the Recovery Version explains what it means to do things in the name of the Lord Jesus:
“The name denotes the person. The Lord’s person is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17a). To do things in the name of the Lord is to act in the Spirit. This is to live Christ.”
We can act in the Spirit and live Christ by contacting Him as the Spirit in our spirit. The simplest way to do that is to call upon His name. When we call, “Oh, Lord Jesus,” we get His rich person. Even as we’re interacting with people, we can inwardly or softly call upon His name to remain in fellowship with Him in our spirit to live by Him. He will be to us whatever we need at that time, and then we can live Him out.
If you want to learn about Christ being everything to us from another angle, take a look at our post: Our Spiritual Remedy: The Spirit as an All-Inclusive Dose.