The whole of life is a participation in the life and ministry of Christ. Thus, when we love a neighbour or love an enemy we are merely catching up with God who is already doing that. When we pray, we’re merely catching up with Christ in his faithful intercession for the church and the world. When we worship, we are joining in with all the faithful who have gone before us, and following the example of our great leiturgos, Christ, our worship leader. You see, the work of Christ wasn’t just to save us, to rescue us from sin, but to save us for an ongoing partnership in the relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to save us for union with Christ.
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” is NOT a nice platitude, but the very core of our faith – for it describes our united participation in the life and ministry of Christ. Thus:
I pray, yet not I but Christ who prays in me
I obey, yet not I but Christ who obeys in me
I hunger and thirst for righteousness, yet not I but Christ in me
I have faith, yet not I but Christ’s in me.
And after all that, we can now see the force of what John said in 5:4,5: “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” The very definition of Jesus being the Son of God, is that he unites the Godhead and humanity. So we cannot live outside of who we are in Christ. We cannot view ourselves apart from Christ – for we are one with him in his glorified humanity.
So Jesus has promised us, “take heart! I have overcome the world.” And John in the second chapter of this his first epistle, reminds us “the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” (2:14)
It is through Christ, the Son of God, the Word of God, who lives in us, that we have victory over the world (the system against Christ) – but it is his victory.
Think of teaching a toddler to walk. You take her hand and together you go for a stroll. No one imagines it is the strength of her small hand which keeps me holding on. I have wrapped my big hand round her tiny one, and she is dependent on my strength. And connected to me, she learns to walk, drawing on my experience and power.
Thus it is as Christians: we are born of God, certainly, and we have been united to Christ, and we count on him to overcome the world. Christ in us, the hope of glory!