Christian Living, Ministry

Searching for One’s Self – 3

I was convinced that just two posts would take care of the thoughts I had when it comes to searching for one’s self, but as I prepared to close that second post, a thought came to mind. Many of us have read in Scripture and heard from the pulpit that when we come to believe in Jesus, we live from that point forward “in Christ.”

There are many promises to the believer, being in Christ. I once taught a six-week study on some of them. But I think that we have to be careful when we talk about being in Christ. If we were to take the spiritual word picture literally, to where we would clothe ourselves in Jesus Christ, would it be a one-size-fits-all situation? Let’s take a moment and talk about that.

We are told in Scripture that Jesus’ death was, “one sacrifice for sins forever” (Hebrews 10:12). Where God’s chosen were required to offer sacrifices for various sins and other requirements, this sacrifice was “a one-time event” as The Message says (Hebrews 9:26). In another version, that verse tells us that He was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28, NKJV). The blood that was spilt once, on the cross of Calvary, would be applied for generations and centuries to come, covering any and all sin that would keep us from God.

But I wonder, if Christ were given to us as something to wrap ourselves in, would that holy Garment look, feel and fit the same to each of us?

I tend to believe that the Garment that we have in Christ is tailor-made. For each of us who have accepted Christ, God takes the time to hand-craft our own perfectly fitting, personal need-meeting, garment. Remember how Jacob made a coat of many colors for the son (Joseph) that he loved more than his other sons? (see Genesis 37:3) Though God loves us all the same, He loves us uniquely, and creates something special for each us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Does that somehow dissipate the uniqueness of the sacrifice of Christ? Does it somehow imply that Christ’s blood does not adequately cover the sins of all mankind? On the contrary, because of the all-sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice, you could think of it as God “trimming off the excess” so that rather than seeing a large poncho-like garment of Christ on us, He sees a neatly tailored garment.

The key to the garment as God looks at us is not so much its shape as its fabric. A tailor chooses material according to the needs of the customer, asking questions such as: what will the suit be used for; what will the temperature or climate be like; do you have any fabric allergies; which color best suits your complexion or the atmosphere you will be in?

For our heavenly Father, the fabric needs no determination. He knew before the foundation of the world that man would be fallen in sin, unable to redeem himself, in need of a Savior. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the fabric from which the Father creates a masterful garment.

But for each of us, our fall into sin manifests in different ways. Because of our personalities, our environments, the individual choices that we make, and other factors, our lives are unique. We often talk about the positive side of uniqueness, how God has uniquely gifted us, called us, and has a plan for our lives. But isn’t it possible that we also unique in our sin, in our individual need for Christ?

The heart of the matter is the same; actually, it is our heart, our very nature. Our minds, though, often have trouble wrapping around the concept that my sin is as easily covered as your sin. In fact, ask the average church attender, who has received grace and forgiveness through the sacrifice of Christ, if a mass-murderer on their deathbed deserves the same grace. How shocked might you be at their answer?

Part of that problem is because we look at our tailored Garment of Christ and think that this is all that is available. We don’t fully understand that God trimmed the excess to fit our individual need. At the same time, the murderer on death row looks at us, sees the tailor-made Garment, and deep down fails to believe that the same Garment could fit him.

But if we consider that Christ’s sacrifice reaches complete through the ages, and God sort of measures up each garment uniquely to our need, then maybe it is easier to understand that when He looks at me, He knows my “size” and prepares a perfect fit for me. And for those of us who don’t understand the excess that was removed from our garments, if we understand the far-reaching implications of the sacrifice of Christ, and start to realize that God loves each of us uniquely (as we said above), maybe we can learn to love others as God loves them.