I’ve been thinking lately about our union with Christ (we’ve been doing a study on this topic at our church). How is it possible to be one with Christ, and still have so much sin in our lives? How can we be a new person, and still have so many characteristics of the old one? As I pondered this paradox, here’s the analogy that came to me: it’s like a heart transplant. Although this is a modern medical advance, the Bible actually talks about it way back in the Old Testament book of Ezekial:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekial 36:26
In this section, the prophet was telling the people of Israel that despite their sin, God has plans to cleanse and restore them. The ultimate plan, of course, was the coming of the Messiah, Jesus who died for our sins and reconciled us with God. And yes, we are now united with Him. Why aren’t we perfect?
Well, here’s what I think. If you have a heart transplant, I’m sure you wake up feeling very different. Once you’ve recovered from the surgery, you have more energy and strength. You probably feel like a new person! However, this new heart requires some changes in your routines. You probably need to take anti-rejection medications; you need to exercise and eat healthy foods. You may have some bad habits to eliminate. You’re willing to do these things because you never, ever, want to go back to feeling the way you felt before–weak and sick. You will probably find it easier to stick to these new routines if you join a support group — some others with heart issues, who are also learning to live differently.
God gives us a new heart through our union with His Son. We are immediately different, but we still need to do some work. We need the Sacraments (good medicine). We need worship, prayer and Bible study (exercise). We need to refrain from sinful behavior. We need the rest of the body (our support group), the church, to keep us going in the right direction.
Remember friends, you’ve had major surgery. It’s changed you. Someone died and that gave you a chance to live. So stick with the program (God’s program) in order to enjoy the new life you’ve received!
For more about the process of sanctification see these posts:
Is Union with Christ a Process?