I believe I can’t fly
“No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:6)
“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)
The miracles of modern technology and convenience are truly extraordinary. I am writing this post on my way back from some time off and, as I type, I am flying at a height of 38,000 feet over mainland Europe.
What I have just written in the previous sentence is completely true. Yet, on another level, it is complete and utter rubbish.
I can’t fly. I don’t expect you to believe I can fly. No amount of furious hand-flapping or jumping up and down will be able to get me airborne for more than a few moments (and certainly not to 38,000 feet). There is no way that I will be leaping into the air to soar around like Superman any time soon, or at all. I can’t fly.
But you knew that already. When I said that I was flying while writing, you probably didn’t picture me defying gravity on my own. You probably visualised what is actually happening: I am sitting relatively comfortably in a aircraft while an experienced flight crew pilot this remarkable machine to its destination.
I can’t fly, and yet I am flying. My ability to fly actually has nothing to do with my own skill or talent, but to do with the skill and talent of others, from the captain flying the plane to the talented engineers who designed and built it.
I wonder if this helps us to understand some of the tricky words of John, when he says some remarkable things about Christians: “No one who lives in [Jesus] keeps on sinning,” says John in his first letter. Those are words that I would imagine every Christian struggles with. If I live in Jesus (which is a definition of being a Christian and follower of Jesus) then I cannot keep on sinning. I will be free from sin.
But I know I am not completely free from sin yet. Sin is still a battle day by day. A battle that I want to fight and overcome, but one that I do lose more frequently than I would like, or like to admit. How can John say that a Christian is free from sin, when our experience is far from it?
Perhaps Paul’s words to the Colossians help change our perspective. There he says that “your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” We live in Jesus and our life is now found in him. Jesus is the one who is truly sinless and perfect. I am not, but my life is hidden in him and found in him.
I cannot fly, yet I do fly when I am found inside an aircraft. I cannot live a sinless life. But it can be said of me that I am free from sin when I am found in the Sinless One. I can be said of me, “You are no longer a slave to sin” (Romans 6:17,18) not because of my skill or ability but purely because of the One in whom I have put my trust.
I cannot fly, yet I anticipate a safe journey through the sky back to home. I still struggle with sin, but I know that I am freed from sinning, because I am found in the one who has set me free.