This post is also available as a podcast: https://anchor.fm/teague-mckamey/episodes/ALL-and-in-All-e1jpu94
As I opened my Bible to study the other day, a thought/prayer went through my mind that often does when I read scripture: This is all for nothing if I am not changed. This is truly how I feel. If Christ doesn’t increase in me, if I am not further conformed to His image (however you want to describe it) then Bible study has failed its purpose.
Jesus chided the Pharisees for thinking they had eternal life just by studying the scriptures. In fact, the scriptures testified to Him, yet they didn’t come to Him (John 5:39-40). We too can think that we have eternal life because of Bible study or other Christian activities. Yet in doing those things we can fail to engage with Jesus and, consequently, with Him who truly is life.
This first thought was followed by another thought, which I’m sure was the Holy Spirit enlarging my perspective: You changing can’t just be about improving yourself or solving your problems. Of course! My transformation is ultimately that “Christ may be all and in all” (Col. 3:11). God’s prime focus is always Christ, not making me a better person or a person without problems. Paul even suggests that God will leave us with weaknesses *so that* Christ’s power can rest on us (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
I’ll admit I was a bit surprised by this, though I shouldn’t have been. We all deal with unrenewed thinking, which reasons from a fallen viewpoint. Because of this, everything—even sanctification—is oriented around our self-interest. God making us Christ-like is then reduced to a behavior modification plan. Or, God is merely our coach and helps us reach self-improvement goals.
If our goal is to be a better person, a better father, a better co-worker, a better whatever, that is commendable. At the same time, the vision of Christ being all and in all dwarfs whatever other reason we might have for wanting to change.
Don’t get me wrong: pursuing Christ and becoming more like Him will undeniably improve me in every sector of life. But I wonder how the experience of conforming to His image changes when the goal is the fullness of Christ and not just the fullness of my own life. I hope you’ll join me in asking this question of Jesus and ourselves.