Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book Review: Found in Him by Elyse Fitzpatrick

According to scholars, the phrases “in Christ”, “with Christ”, “in Him” and other similar phrases are used over 200 times in the New Testament.  In other words, as we read our Bibles, we come across these phrases all the time.  But if you are like me, you have spent years reading these phrases but very little time stopping and thinking what these phrases mean.  Over the past few weeks, in the midst of preaching a series of sermons on our unity in Christ, that is what I have had the privilege of doing.  I have been able to spend some time marinating my soul in what is means for me to be “in Christ.”

One of the resources that has been a blessing to me has been Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book, Found in Him:  The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ.  I will admit, I began reading this book as a “work-related” exercise to prepare for a series of sermons.  What I ended up with was a book that challenged me to deeply re-evaluate what it means for me to be found “in Christ.”

Fitzpatrick’s book is wonderfully centered on Jesus.  If you are looking for a self-help book focused on your struggles, this is not it.  Rather, the focus of the book is intentionally on Jesus in order to help us see who Jesus is and what He has done.  The book reminds us of who we are in Jesus.  And in focusing on Jesus, his life, his sacrifice and his victory, Fitzpatrick reminds us how those things are meant to encourage and empower us in our daily struggles. If you believe that Jesus has an answer to the struggles in your life, than Found In Him will help you see how the work of Jesus speaks to those struggles.

The book is broken down into two main sections.  The first six chapters focus on the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  Starting with Jesus’ pre-existence and moving into his birth, his life, his death and his resurrection victory, Fitzpatrick brings home to the reader how Jesus’ work on earth impacts them.  My favorite part was then she focused on Jesus’ life and discussed how Jesus spent every minute of every hour of every day focused on satisfying the demands of the Jewish law so he could present himself to God as a sinless, perfect sacrifice for our sakes.  This quote hit home for me: “Everything that you’ve left undone, He did for you.  Every sin you’ve committed, he joyfully shunned out of love for you.” (p. 61)

The second part of the book is centered on our union with Christ.  What kind of relationship do Christians have with Jesus right now?  What does it mean that Jesus is our representative, our brother in the eternal family of God, and our husband?  The last one is especially difficult for us guys.  Jesus as our husband?  We are okay with that idea on a corporate level – we agree that church is the bride of Christ.  But on an individual level, the idea kind of wierds us out a bit.  But Fitzpatrick does a great job explaining it, laying out the biblical basis and then reminding us that this “marriage” is about unity and us being in submission to Christ, who is the head of the church.  I’ll admit, while I read that section, I was a bit uncomfortable.  But any discomfort I felt was my problem – Scripture is clear that believers are found in a forever marriage relationship with their husband, Jesus Christ.

Found in Him is a relatively easy read, but there is much to digest.  Let the biblical truths Elyse Fitzpatrick lays out saturate your soul.  Let what Jesus did for our sake nourish your spirit.  Let the meaning of our union with Christ penetrate your life.  After reading this book, may you never read the phrase “in Christ” the same way again.

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