“In” versus “at” are two completely different ways of walking with God. Last night and this morning, this little gem of truth shone out at me in my meditation times, and I think it goes to the heart of how simple the walk of faith really is. We’re meant to live “in” God not “at” God. Let me explain.
One of the apostle Paul’s most powerful statements is in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Here Paul, in a single sentence, describes the essence of how he lived life and how he walked with God.
Remember how Paul’s walk began. This highly talented, driven, A-type man was all about “making things happen” in his life and he was very zealous in his early attempts to pursue God. He was better than everyone else at anything to do with religion, more intense and more extreme. He went to the point of killing Christians in his misguided “service to God”. But he was frustrated and wasn’t finding what his heart needed.
Paul was trying to live life “at” God. And then the Lord knocked him off his horse.
What Paul learnt in the years that followed is that to live “in” Christ means you die – you realize that everything you can do to get closer to God is useless. You can’t reach Him and you don’t deserve to have Him. He has to reach you, and bring you to Himself with undeserved grace.
Living “in” God means drawing on Christ’s life and strength for every step of our journey, surrounding ourselves with the the Holy Spirit’s closeness, yielding up every challenge to the Lord’s help, and hiding ourselves in Him. Living “at” God is like standing outside of Heaven trying to look over the wall. Living “in” God is experiencing the Presence of Heaven as much as we can, and having it ooze out from within the temple of our hearts.
The focus of a life “in” God is the inner life because that’s where we nurture our connection with Him. Prayer, worship, meditation and waiting on God are the joyful disciplines we must master. Psalm 64:4 describes how we impact the world around us when we live in this way, “He is a God who works on behalf of those who wait for Him.” God does it – boom! Daniel 11:32 explains that, “the people who know their God will be strong and do exploits.” A life “in” God is not a retreat, not a failure to impact the world. In truth this is the only way we can bring a real touch of the living God to the world around us, because He’s real and alive within us. Paul says, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me“. That’s what the people around us need – something real from God, a touch of Christ.
I love what Paul says next, “the life I live I live by faith in the Son of God“. Here’s that beautiful “in” again. It strikes me that Paul’s faith actually came from Jesus, rather than from himself. Faith is a spiritual gift and is cultivated in our hearts through the seed of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. Faith isn’t something we bring to the party, its an ability that flows from Christ’s presence in our lives. Ask Him for more faith!
Finally, Paul says that Jesus “loved me and gave Himself for me.” Living “in” God is rooted in receiving His love continually and knowing His generosity. If you’re not rooted here, you can’t really respond to love God and give yourself effectively to Him.
The Holy Spirit is near and present to help you live “in” God. “Set you mind on things above…set your heart on thing above…for you died and you life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3