Identifying With Christ
Because I’m late in providing this note, Independence Day is now behind us, but its purpose remains: to celebrate the birth of our nation, reminding us of the values that define us and of the cost of our freedom. Such patriotic holidays ought also to remind us that we continue to bear the responsibility of living out the values we espouse. Because we are Americans, it is both logical and necessary for us to live according to all that our nation stands for.
In the same way, we who have been made children of God by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone have both a responsibility and an internal drive to live like children of God. We want to live a life that mirrors the character of God, and we also recognize that this kind of living is not optional for those who belong to God.
The Lord has given us some specific ways to identify with Him in the ordinances of the church. Those ordinances—baptism and the Remembrance Celebration—are specifically ordained ceremonies of identification with the person, work, and body of Christ. The Lord Himself gave them to us by His example and command.
The first, baptism, is our initial public identification with Jesus Christ and the church. In baptism, we declare publicly our allegiance to our Lord by being immersed in water. As we go under the water, we identify with His death, signifying that we died in Him. Rising out of the water, we identify with His resurrection life, signifying that we have been raised to live a new, God-pleasing life in Him. The ceremony publicly testifies that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has utterly changed our identity.
The second ordinance, which Real Life calls the Remembrance Celebration, is known as the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, or Holy Communion. It is the ongoing identification of Christ’s church with His redeeming work on the cross. It is shared regularly by all orthodox Christian churches, and the various names given to it reflect the purposes for which Jesus gave us this practice.
The general term, “the Lord’s Supper,” refers to the fact that it was instituted by Jesus Himself as a lasting ordinance for His people to practice. “Eucharist” comes from the Greek and means “thanksgiving”. As we participate in this sacred ceremony, our hearts are rightly overcome with gratitude for the unspeakable love and incredible sacrifice found in the cross of Christ. It is called “Holy Communion” with regard to the unity of the Church in Christ, as we all partake of Him together. It is the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ that have purchased life for all who will receive it, uniting all believers in Him. Each time we take the bread and the cup together, we remember its meaning and celebrate the real, eternal life Jesus purchased for us through His death, just as He instructed us to do; therefore, it is fitting to call it our “Remembrance Celebration”.
There is a third powerful way that we testify to the reality of Christ in us. It is the change of our character and lifestyle. When we respond to the Good News in faith and are born anew as God’s own fully forgiven, wholly accepted, and dearly loved children, He gives us a new identity and a new nature, along with a new desire to please Him and become more like Him. This is the heart of discipleship—becoming more and more like Jesus as we reflect the reality of who He is through relationships. We cannot effectively demonstrate our obedience to Christ outside of a committed relationship with a local church, since so much of what our Lord commands and models takes place in the context of the body.
Every single person who has been born again is called to identify with Christ publicly, intimately, and continuously. According to the Lord’s instruction, we do this through baptism, the Remembrance Celebration, and obedient discipleship. May God be glorified on earth and in the heavenly realms as we do.