It seems that faith covers the gap between what we think we know and what we have experienced. It requires little faith to sit down in my favorite chair. I not only know that the chair should support me, but I’ve experienced it supporting me more times than I can count. Very little faith is required in the physical world because in most cases we can quickly test what we know and then our experience replaces our faith.
Spiritual things are different. Jesus’ response to Satan is very clear when Satan attempts to get Jesus to close the gap between what He knows and what He has experienced.
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (Matthew 4:7 ESV)
Wilbourne describes union with Christ as my being in Christ and Christ being in me. Paul talks about this throughout his letters. As a follower of Jesus, I know this is reality. However, I have never experienced this reality in a way that close the gap in the way that sitting in a chair does.
We must be relentless about this. Otherwise, we run the risk of reducing the glory of our salvation in Christ to the smallness of our individual experience of him. So, as we explore the wonder and mystery of union with Christ together, let us always remember that the Christ we experience is always greater and more marvelous than our experience of him. – Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne
There are two realities we need to live in even when we don’t fully experience them.
We are in Christ.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3 ESV)
More than that, we are hidden in Christ. This is important. When God looks at us He sees Jesus. He sees a perfect image of what a human being is created to be. He does not see our sin because it has been removed by the blood of Jesus. Jesus is eternal and since we are in Him we already have immortality. I will never be an imposing physical figure. As a result, I took my share of physical abuse in junior high. For whatever reason I never found a big and imposing figure to be my friend. What I didn’t realize then and often fail to realize now is that I am always in the most imposing figure there is. This doesn’t mean I won’t suffer, but it does mean I do not need to fear. I am in Christ and I will always be where He is regardless of what happens to my physical body.
Christ is in me.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)
I think the goal of Christ in us is to shape us so that more and more we look like the Christ we are in. Whether I realize it or not, the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit in me is constantly working to change me from the inside out to look more like Jesus. Sometimes I am aware of this, but most times my knowing that this is what the Holy Spirit is up to doesn’t match my experience. I must trust that this is happening. The more confident I am that I am in Christ, the more easily I can submit to the work of the Holy Spirit.
How do you deal with the gap between knowing and experiencing?