Life as a Sponge

My Curiosity

In What I Learned in 2021, I shared a quote from one of my favorite writers, F.B. Meyer, about the privilege of being one in Christ and the intimacy that comes with that relationship.  Meyers offered the comparison of that relationship in Christ as that of the life of a sponge.

We must be one with Christ:

we must be in Him as the sponge is in the ocean.”  

A sponge!  I must admit, I had failed to remember that a sponge at one time was a living being.  So with that reminder in hand, I decided to dig deeper. What I discovered and with the Spirit’s enlightenment is our WordBytes today.

Life as a sponge

There are two basic forms in the life cycle of a sponge. Most sponges live their lives attached to a reef. They don’t move around. There was a time in their lives when they were little larvae swimming around the water all by themselves.

Sponges have unspecialized cells.  Sponges do not have nervous, digestive, or circulatory systems. Instead, most rely on maintaining a constant water flow through their bodies to obtain food and oxygen and to remove wastes.

Interesting?  Yes, but where is the connection between our being in Christ and a sponge?

In John 15:1-8, Jesus uses the vine and the branch analogy to describe what an intimate relationship with Him would look like.  In Christ, we would abide in Him. The branch apart from the vine, the source of life and nutrients, could do nothing (v. 5).

So what’s with the sponge?

In Christ Recap

In Christ is the present experience of the risen Christ indwelling our heart by the Holy Spirit.  This results in incorporating the personality of Christ into our life.   It is more than an imitation of the life and teachings of Jesus.  It is our union with Christ as a result of the divine action of grace by God. The result of that action:  we are transformed into a new creation.

In Christ describes our identity with Christ and our position before God the Father. We (in position) can now begin the process of being conformed to the image of Christ (in practice)—righteous and holy. (Romans 12:2)

In Christ, God makes his superabundant blessings available to us by faith in Christ.  What Christ has is ours!  We are able to draw upon the wealth of Christ to accomplish God ‘s purpose and will.

Striving for Oneness

Meyer’s sponge analogy can be described even more accurately in the Apostle Paul’s statement to the Athenians: “For in him we live and move and have our being.”  (Acts 17:28)

It is this oneness with Christ that Meyer’s was describing.    Our oneness is not only our connection by faith alone (Gal. 3:26).  But it is also our life lived in singleness of thought.  And that thought is the glory of God—His will and His purpose.

What do I mean?  What does that look like?   The best example I can give is the relationship Jesus had with God the Father.[1]

John 14:10

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.

John 17:21-23 

That they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.

Like Jesus and the Father, our oneness in Christ recognizes both our dependency AND celebrates our interdependency.

Live like a Sponge

In our study of the sponge, there are similarities we may note as we strive for oneness in Christ.

The sponge relies on maintaining a constant water flow through its body to obtain food and oxygen and to remove wastes

The first is constancy.  Constancy is defined as the quality of being faithful and dependable.  The sponge attaches itself to the reef, a place that will supply the flowing water current needed to live.  As believers, we must seek out those places where we can “attach ourselves” and “grow in faith” (2 Pet. 3:18; Heb. 6:1).  Communities of faith strengthen our spiritual endurance and maturity, so that we can stand fast in the midst of trials and persecution.

The second is discernment. Water flows through the sponge’s simple systems.  It doesn’t hold on to everything but only keeps what is needed to continue its life cycle.  It removes waste.  In our spiritual life, everything we’re exposed to isn’t “necessary” (1 Cor. 6:12-15).  We must be diligent to carefully filter what flows into our eyes, ear, and mind.

As we seek oneness in Christ our constancy and discernment keep us focused on what really is important for living.  It recognizes our dependency and interdependency with both the Father and Jesus.

Like the sponge, we live life knowing “Christ is the center “of our existence and acknowledge that apart from Him we can do nothing.  Therefore, let us strive moment by moment to live the life of a sponge— “one with Him.” (John 14:20)

[1]  I encourage you to read these in your personal Bible study.  They are amazing spiritual “nuggets” for meditation and prayer.  Ask the Holy Spirit to “open your eyes to see” (Ps. 119:18) what God will share with you on pursuing oneness with Him.

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