Thanksgiving and Union with Christ: November Gratitude Reading Plan (Day 24)

(This devotional is day twenty-four of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)

Read Ephesians 1:3-14

When my wife and I married in 2012, we joined our lives together as one. Wedding rings symbolize this unbroken bond of union where I belong to her and she belongs to me. There’s not only the joy of companionship, but there’s also oneness through the covenant of marriage. What’s mine is now hers, and what’s hers is now mine. We not only take on one another’s assets, but we also take on one another’s debts. Her family becomes my family, and my family becomes her family. Even our emotional lives overlap because the things that burden my wife burden me. Spouses share sorrows, successes, and celebrations.

One of the greatest doctrines in the Christian faith is union with Christ. When we trust in Jesus, we’re united with him as one. Our identity becomes wrapped up in who we are in him.

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Where to look for assurance of election

I found this quote by Calvin helpful as our church studies Romans 9 together. Calvin’s emphasis on union with Christ throughout his writings again pays dividends as he reminds us to look to Christ to know that you are loved by God…and will be so forever. If we have been united to Christ by faith then we have no need to look into the past and be puzzled if God chose us. Christ is our assurance so we look at him.

But if we have been chosen in [Christ], we shall not find assurance of our election in ourselves; and not even God the Father, if we conceive of him as severed from his Son. Christ, then, is the mirror wherein we must, and without self-deception may, contemplate our own election. For since it is into his body the Father has destined those to be engrafted whom he has will from eternity to be his own…we have sufficiently clear and firm testimony that we have been inscribed in the book of life if we are in communion with Christ. (Calvin, Institutes, 3.24.5)

Suffering with Jesus

unionThe Bible speaks about various positive outcomes to suffering, or reasons why we can rejoice in suffering. However, one which I think we often miss out on is that as we suffer Christ actually suffers with us. It’s not simply that we suffer like Christ or that we suffer in his name—although both are also true—but the NT offers tremendous encouragement in the mystery that Jesus actually  in some way suffers with his church. This truth, forged in the OT with texts about God walking through the fire with us or being in the fire with us (cf. Is. 43; 63:9; Dan. 3:25; Ex. 33:14), is only ratcheted up in the NT through union with Christ.

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