Monday, August 8, 2016

Union With Christ by Rankin Wilbourne

Wilbourne is concerned that many facets of our union with Christ are being ignored. It was once considered to be the heart of the Christian life. “The highest good of human life,” he writes, “indeed the purpose of creation and redemption, is communion with God.” (278) That intimacy comes through our union with Christ.

Wilbourne begins his book by emphasizing the need for us to exercise our imagination. Our imagination “is necessary to know and enjoy God.” (18) How else can we relate to an unseen God? I had high expectations that I would be taught how to use my imagination to live in my identity in Christ and to abide. When I got to that section in the book, however, imagination was a forgotten concept. I wish Wilbourne had explained how we actually use our imagination in our Christian life, rather than just telling me I needed to engage it.

The book is divided into four parts. Part I explores what union with Christ is and why we need to receive it. Part II substantiates the claim that union with Christ is central to the Christian life but is largely misunderstood and overlooked. Part III is on how we apply our union with Christ in our everyday lives. Part IV is on how to live in union with Christ.

Wilbourne notes that there is a chasm between what we say we blieve and our actual experience. There is a gap between the inheritance we have been given and our present experience. Recognizing this gap is the first step in closing it. I wish there had been more on closing that gap. His section on living in union with Christ mentions a few disciplines but otherwise I felt was lacking. He does remind us that experiencing that union with Christ requires discipline and practice. It doesn't naturally happen.

The emphasis in this book is rediscovering the importance of recognizing our union with Christ. It remains a mystery, even though “...nothing is more practical to living your faith than union with Christ.” (117) “Union with Christ is an enchanted reality. It tells us that the most important things about our lives cannot be seen or touched with our senses.” (119-120) Knowing and celebrating the Holy Spirit is essential in order for our union with Christ to be appreciated and embraced.

Wilbourne explores how our union with Christ is a new mindset. (132) It gives us a new understanding of our identity. We have as a goal that Christ be formed in us. We should be living into that identity. God both calls us to that identity and empowers us to live into it.

Wilbourne's book does a good job in arguing that union with Christ is much more than just a forensic truth. It is to be an experiential reality for the Christian. I was frustrated that there was not a more clear and practical exploration of pursuing that experiential reality. I wish he would have explored how the imagination he previously said was so essential is actually used in pursuing that reality. I finished the book wanting more.

You can watch the book trailer here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Rankin Wilbourne is the pastor of Pacific Crossroads Church in Los Angeles. He and his wife live in Los Angeles with their three children.

David C Cook, 320 pages.

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