The Unique Difference in How We Learn as Christians

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

Ephesians 4:20

In yesterday's reflection, we saw that Christianity is so much more than just good morals and Jesus is so much more than just a good moral teacher. We, who put our faith in Jesus, enter into a relationship with him, such that Paul can speak of "learning Christ" (a more literal translation of verse 20).

Verse 21 continues to spell out how we "learn Christ." This verse begins by noting that we have "heard about Christ." This implies a process of instruction in which someone who knows the truth about Christ passes it on to us. Somebody speaks so that we can hear. (If Paul were writing today, he might include reading alongside of hearing.)

The next phrase of verse 21 reveals that this process of instruction isn't merely a human interaction. When we were instructed about Christ, we are "taught in him." "In him" suggests a deep fellowship with Christ, ongoing living in relationship with him. Yet, as Ephesians reminds us time and again, our relationship with Christ is not an individualistic experience, but something we share with our fellow believers, who, like us, are members of Christ's body. When we gather with the church for teaching, we are "in Christ" because he is present in and among us.

The final phrase of Ephesians 4:21 notes that we were taught "in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus." It could be that the use of "Jesus" here is simply a stylistic variation. It does seem, however, that the appearance of "Jesus" without "Christ" or "Lord," found only here in Ephesians, reminds us that our learning "in Christ" is connected to the life, death, and resurrection of a real human being. Thus, being "in Christ" isn't some disembodied spiritual experience. Rather, it is a relationship with one who is both God and human, one whose teaching was delivered in real words and demonstrated with real deeds.

Thus, Christian learning isn't based on some religious feeling or even on speculating on "what would Jesus do." Rather, it is based on knowing about the human Jesus, who was God Incarnate, and knowing this same Jesus, who invites us into relationship with him today.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you think about your own experience of learning, what has helped you to know about Jesus? How have you learned about him? What helps you to know him daily, personally? Would you say that you live each day "in Christ"? Why or why not?

PRAYER: Living Lord Jesus, thank you for the privilege of knowing about you. Thank you for those who have taught me through their speaking and their writing. Thank you for those who have taught me through their faithful actions. Thank you, most of all, for the Gospels, which help me to know you truly.

I also thank you, Jesus, for the privilege of knowing you, being in relationship with you, even being called your friend. As I live "in you," help me to know you more truly and deeply. May my life be shaped by your life. May I live in such a way today that people can see you through me. To you be all the glory. Amen.


Coming to Terms With Our Limitations

Are you struggling to face the chasm between your dreams and your not-so-glamorous circumstances? Then our series Coming to Terms With Our Limitations is for you. If you or someone you know needs encouragement along these lines, join us on The High Calling.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.