Life in Christ, lived in this world, is not easy. The Christian life is one of struggle, striving, suffering, conflict and difficulty, for we live in the fallen flesh rife with sin and passion that threatens to drown us, a world that hates us for the sake of Christ, and the devil who seeks nothing more than our destruction. This life in Christ is hard.
However, it’s not hard for hardness sake, or because God is mean and Christianity is made to be a secret, hidden and elusive thing. The difficulty of life in Christ, in the world, is the reality of being found in faith, yet found still in the sinful flesh. The Scriptures speak to this reality as they proclaim that the desires of the flesh are against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh.
Because we live by faith, through faith, and in our baptism, our life is one of struggle. But it is not in vain, it shows forth the reality and foundation of what Baptism and faith take hold of: Christ and His righteousness.
By faith, through the life of the baptized, we live in Christ, the only one who passes through the narrow door by his passion, death and resurrection. The way through the narrow door is ONLY “IN” Christ, by faith, through communion with him, on account of a baptism into his death, being raised in his resurrection.
True communion, through faith, is what matters. Simply being near Jesus, or bearing the name Christian, or even going to the Lord’s Table is all for not if it is not through the true communion of faith in His promises and work.
By that communion, though our life in Christ is difficult, we are given to see as Christ speaks to us. That our sins have been stripped away (not through our struggling or efforts, but by His work), that we have been placed firmly into his body, and that we are held through his communion – Word, Water, Body and Blood – for his sake and through his faithfulness.
For further reflection:
What does such baptizing with water indicate?
It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise and live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
-The Small Catechism: The Sacrament of Holy Baptism – The Fourth Part
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.