Counseling Notes: Soul Care & Union With Christ

Topic: Practical Theology, Soul Care, Trauma, Love, Biblical Theology, Gospel Implications, Joy, Providence

Counseling Notes are a series of short posts that are often taken from Twitter threads that I’ve done on various topics. The goal of Counseling Notes is to take the short snippets (tweets) I make about Soul Care issues and compile them into one place.

(1) The Doctrine of Union with Christ is one of the most essential & foundational doctrines of Christianity. It’s a doctrine that has been largely lost in American Evangelicalism due to its hyper-individualism. The doctrine is literally anti-individualistic but also life giving 

(2) In short, it’s the truth that thru repentance & Faith we are not merely born again but born into a supernatural (mystical) bond w/ Christ whereby we & Christ become one in sense that we share in His rights, privileges, & glory as new creations whose old self was crucified. 

(3) Within what theologians call our mystical union with Christ (by mystical they simply mean supernatural/of divine origin) we thru are bonded with Christ to such a degree that not only do we partake of his glories but our very suffering itself is transformed. This is crucial. 

(4) We live in a fallen world filled with suffering & suffering is simply a reality of living. However, IN CHRIST [In Union W/ Christ] our suffering is connected to Christ’s incarnational suffering & is therefore not an end to itself but a door way to greater Christlikeness. 

(5) Union w/ Christ teaches not that suffering is Good but rather that when we suffer as those in Union w/ Christ; we aren’t alone in suffering but rather Christ is WITH us & we are WITH Christ who suffered in all ways as the incarnate Son of God. We are bonded in suffering. 

(6) I know, the doctrine of Union With Christ gets HEAVY really fast. It is both a basic and yet one of the most intricate and profound teachings of the Christian faith. It literally changes everything when truly grasped. I’ll share a examples of how it transforms everything. 

(7) that abuse you endured, where you felt utterly alone & no one could understand? Jesus is quite literally only person who can say in fullness of truth, “I understand”. Not only b/c he created you & but b/c he too endured it via His Spirit within you & in his life incarnate. 

(8) Jesus was betrayed by his closest friends, was handed over by religious authorities to be physically abused, stripped naked & put on public display in order to be shamed by the masses as they beheld his exposed & brutalized innocent naked body. 

(9) he was racialized, marginalized, & oppressed as his very own religious & spiritual community sought his destruction despite him loving them more than anything else in the world.

Union With Christ teaches that even abuse cannot severe our bond w/ Christ but rather deepens it. 

(10) when such evil is done to us, we & Christ begin having more in common. Our bond is more deeply realized, our love & understanding of Him grows as we grow in our understanding of what he endured for us; in our greatest suffering, Christ -the suffering servant- becomes closer. 

(11) beloved, in your deepest darkest pain & suffering Christ is there. As a believer & lover of the messiah; you have entered a realm where there is no suffering that is in vain. Every tear drop of suffering will be met with an ocean of Joy unspeakable as you will reign w/ Him. 

(12) The final point I want to make is this: The Doctrine if Union With Christ teaches that Christ is in Union WITH you as an individual & he is in Union with His church. Beloved, you are never alone. All those who’ve suffered IN Christ across space & time are your family. 

13) The doctrine of Union With Christ combats the tendency towards hyper-individualism by presenting the Christian faith as one that is not rooted in individualism but rather fellowship/community. The church has often misapplied this truth by concluding that this reality requires local church attendance in order to be a true Christian. Though local church attendance can be helpful & healthy; for spiritual abuse survivors it can be triggering. It is important for them to know that the fellowship that their faith is grounded on is not local church attendance but rather their union with Christ. Every Christian is in an eternal fellowship with Christ & with the universal church that spans across space & time. No Christian is ever alone! They are in eternal fellowship with The Trinity themselves!

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved themeven as you have loved me.

John 17:20-23

(14) Too often, even when we consider dynamics of Spiritual abuse, our minds go to thinking of those who claim Christ who have done harm. But for the hurting, the Doctrine Union With Christ gives them access to a multitude of others who have suffered to who share that bond. 

(15) if you’ve known pain within the church, specifically b/c of what is called the church, I want to encourage you to look to church history & look to the global bride of Christ. You are in Union with a multitude of other sufferers and you & them are bonded together IN Jesus. 

(16) A key for some in regards to holding onto faith, the church, & Christ may be to grow in your understanding of this doctrine & to look outward to the broader church. To say it another way, a room full of Jesus loving sufferers IS the church; the star shining at its brightest. 

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