Galatians 4:19. my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!
Paul’s love for the Galatians is evident throughout this letter. Yes his tone can get a bit testy at times, but it cannot be denied that Paul has invested his heart and soul into this church. Galatians 4:19 not only demonstrates this real emotion for us, it also gives us another great metaphor for the life of Christ in us- pregnancy.
Paul first equates himself with a pregnant mother in labor. And his anguish in child labor is directly related to the formation of Christ in the Galatians (see also Romans 8:18-23). Then, Paul pictures us as the ones in the midst of a pregnancy where Christ is the embryo being formed in you. This may be a bit shocking and uncomfortable picture for us, but it demonstrates a crucial truth of the Christian faith- CHRIST IS BEING FORMED IN US.
It is of value for us to pause here and remember that our Union with Christ is both the state of being In Christ, and Christ In You. Galatians 2:20 showed us In Christ. Because we are In Christ, we are crucified with Christ. Then in 4:19 we see Christ In You. Because we are In Christ, we now have the life of Christ in us.
An understanding of both of these truths is crucial to living the Christian life. With just one or the other you will be imbalanced. You will either have grace without growth, or growth without grace (which isn’t real growth). Union with Christ affects both your justification and your sanctification.
Yes, you are In Christ. This is by grace through faith. Everything that ever needs to happen to you to secure salvation has already happened. It is finished. You can rest. It’s all of grace.
And yet this does not leave us unchanged, unformed, or simply waiting for “glory day.” We have Christ in us, being formed in us, growing in us, changing us. Just like a pregnant woman, Christ in us is actually producing an outward change by an inward reality.
So our reality changed once and for all by our being In Christ. But Christ In You creates an ongoing change to your reality. If not, why would Paul even be writing this letter, especially such an impassioned letter with these strong metaphors? Why wouldn’t he just say, “I’m so glad you guys are saved by grace. Now, try to be nice and I’ll see you in Heaven some day?”
“To live is Christ” is resting in the saving grace of Christ’s completed work. And it is also striving in saving grace for the life of Christ to be formed in you. And as Paul shows us, it is striving, even in anguish, for the life of Christ to be formed in others too.