Friday, November 25, 2011

Commentary: To Be Filled With Christ

To Be Filled With Christ

Today it is easier to know if and when a woman is pregnant than in the days of Paul.  There are tests that can let a woman know whether or not she is with child.  In the past it was pretty much known when the belly started to swell up.  No one then knew what happened inside until the woman gave birth to "final product."  With the scientific and technological advances of today not only do we know, but there are fields of science dedicated to study it, and each phase in the formation of the human being has been named.  The first phase is called embryogenesis and it happens thanks to a process called mitosis. 

The topics of embryogenesis and mitosis are highly technical and complex.  In an oversimplified generalization, this process is what happens once a female egg is fertilized by a male sperm.  What happens is that the cell divides itself in identical parts and then splits creating twice as many identical cells.  Soon enough, a fertilized egg becomes an embryo, which eventually becomes a fetus. 

The word embryo is from the Greek Embruon, which means that which grows.  It comes from the word enbryein.  The prefix en- means in.  The suffix bryein means to swell; be full.  So the word means to fill or swell inside.  In this process of filling up inside a woman's womb, a human being is formed. 

To apply this spiritually let us read Galatians 4:19,

Galatians 4:19  My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

When we read Galatians 4: 19, we realize that Paul's concern for the Galatians was not simply about theological ideas and doctrinal points of view.  His heart was bound up with the lives of the people who were brought to Christ through his ministry. He considered himself more than just a friend; he was their spiritual father, and they were his children. But even more than that, Paul likens his concern for the Galatians to the worry and anguish that accompany a mother in childbirth (Gal. 4:19). Paul had thought that his previous "labor" had been sufficient for their "safe delivery" when he founded the church. But now that the Galatians had wandered from the truth, Paul was experiencing those labor pains all over again in order to secure their well-being.

Having first described the Galatians as being formed in the womb, Paul now speaks of the Galatians as if they were expectant mothers themselves. The word translated as "formed" – morphoo - was used medically to refer to the development of an embryo. (The word morphoo is used as a suffix in the word for transformed as used in Romans 12:2 – "… be ye transformed by the renewal of your mind.")  Through this metaphor Paul describes what it means to be Christian, both individually and collectively as a church. To be a follower of Christ is more than just the profession of faith; it involves a radical transformation into the likeness of Christ.  Paul was "not looking for a few minor alterations in the Galatians but for such a transformation that to see them would be to see Christ."—Leon Morris, Galatians (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1996), p. 142.

In essence, to be a Christian is having Jesus swell up in you as a baby in a mother's womb.  It is to be filled with Christ.  In the beginning the process is almost unnoticeable, but gradually it becomes more apparent.  The more He grows in you, the more you swell up, the more noticeable or obvious it becomes.  Just like a pregnant woman does not need to bring attention to herself once her belly grows, a Christian does not need to bring attention to himself once Christ is filling him or her up.  Many are spiritually abstinent, others use spiritual contraceptives, yet others perform spiritual abortions.  Few allow it allow it to become full term.  Some may be concerned with stretch marks; Paul would call them infirmities in which to glory,

 2 Corinthians 12:9  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Is Christ growing in you?  Are you swelling up with His fullness in you?  Is it obvious to others?  I pray we do allow Him to grow in us and transform us to His likeness.

Raul Diaz