Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Christ in You

Yesterday we looked at the Christological basis of chapter one of Colossians. Today we will look at what it means for us, using that same chapter.

St Paul told the Romans that “Christ did not please Himself” (15:3), that is, all He has done in this world has been for us. Reconciling us through the Cross, becoming the “first-born from the dead,” etc, is all in service of our salvation. So Paul calls us to give thanks to God, who “has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son [literally, “the Son of his love,” a very tender expression], in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13). I find “transferred” to be an interesting term here. It’s as if we were working at some dreary or intolerable job, and suddenly we receive notice that we’ve been transferred to another department: comfortable environment, enjoyable and rewarding work, fewer hours, higher pay, more benefits. But the transfer described in Scripture is of an unimaginably higher order: out of the Dominion of Darkness and into the Kingdom of the Son of God! The devil has been forced to terminate our employment in his dungeon, and we’ve been hired by the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

For this new position we are provided with “the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” and we are “strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” Our job description is simple, but not easy: “Lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work…” Formerly slackers whom the devil drafted into his service (“once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds”), we now belong to Christ, who “has now reconciled [us] in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present [us] holy and blameless and irreproachable before him.” Sounds great, but there’s still more we have to do; we must “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel…” (vv 10-11, 21-23). The worst thing that could ever happen to us is to be transferred back to where we used to be.

Therefore we must endure sufferings patiently and with trust—Paul actually rejoiced in his, though maybe we’re not quite there yet—for the sake of the Church (the “company” in which we are employed). This is made possible by a great mystery, a rich and glorious mystery, says Paul, one that was “hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest.” The mystery is this: “Christ in you, your hope of glory” (v 27).

Christ in us! He who is the image of the invisible God, through whom all things were created, in whom all things have and maintain their very existence, the Risen One, pre-eminent in all things—He is in us! Paul was totally captivated, enthralled by Him, and we should be too! The Apostle set himself to the task of proclaiming Christ to everyone, teaching, admonishing, and toiling, “striving with all the energy which He mightily inspired in [him]” (v 28-29). When one becomes aware of who Jesus Christ is, and that He actually dwells within us in grace and truth and love, then one naturally wakes up, becomes fully alive, and desires both to enter more deeply into this mystery and to make it known to others.

Christ in us is our hope—our only hope—of glory. Having been transferred out of the Dominion of Darkness, let us live in the Light and build up the Kingdom of God in this world and in our own hearts. The gift of this “transfer” is so astounding, that we may even find ourselves able to rejoice in our temporary sufferings, for eternal life is already illuminating the far horizon…