My friend, J. Randal Matheny, has been preaching the truth in Brazil for many years. Sometimes I think he secretly wants to write poetry. Here is one of his latest poems. It is entitled, “In Christ is Joy:”
In Christ is pure and lasting joy,
Which pain and doubt cannot destroy;
By surface squalls its peaceful deep
Lies undisturbed, nor will it weep
For loss of limb or life or purse;
Unmoved this joy by pagan curse:
Its height extends beyond the sun
Where sparkling plans of God are spun.
My friend uses a familiar phrase in the letters of Paul the apostle. “In Christ” was a favorite phrase in the book of Ephesians, particularly. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him,” (Ephesians 1:3-4 NASB).
Sometimes we “hop” over small words that can sometimes mean much more than we initially think. The little word, “in,” is one of those words. When we English-speaking Americans use it, we generally limit our use of it to a locative sense, e.g. “he is in the house.” The word tells us “he” is located in the house.
But in the language of the New Testament, it can mean more. It can (and does) mean that someone is “within the sphere of influence.” To be in Christ means to live within the sphere of influence of Jesus. We go where he sends, we do what he tells us to do.
Our poet tells us that within the sphere of influence of Jesus is “pure and lasting joy.” In this small phrase of four words, Randal paints a picture for the entire poem. Things of the world will fade and pass away. If we want to have lasting joy, then we need Jesus. The joy of being in Christ will last for eons more than the sun.
Have you ever thought that it is possible to have something in this life that is, indeed, eternal? Living in Christ is. All of the joy of living in and for Jesus will last for all eternity. It will exist for us in this life, and in eternity, too. Randal’s last words in the poem are so true: “it’s height extends beyond the sun where sparkling plans of God are spun.”
That is what living within the sphere of influence of Christ is about.