Colossians 3:12-17

In the first two chapters alone, Paul mentions at least 15 times that believers are in Christ. I believe he has said this because his goal is to eventually present everyman to the Father complete in Christ. He also repeatedly said that Jesus Christ is God’s mystery. He teaches that we are to see to it that the words of this Mystery richly dwell within our hearts.

How comfortable do you think our western consciousness is with mystery? This genius that has conquered the wold through science and technology; can it conceive of building anything on something so mushy as a mystery?  I can understand the reluctance in trying to construct anything on a collection of soft religious propositions but this is not at all what Paul is saying. He is instructing us to put the whole weight of what is being built upon nothing more or less than the rock solid foundation of a resurrected Person.

You might be thinking, “So what’s the big mystery? I believe that Jesus is the son of God; he died for my sin and I’m going to heaven. What’s so mysterious about that?” Well ….there is plenty to be sure but let’s skip over this (simple) idea of getting man to heaven for a moment and focus on the fuller version of salvation which involves the communal-process of getting heaven into man (in this life). This was huge to Paul as it should also be to us. Paul reveals a key in how he envisions the gospel spreading….

       Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.

The conduct Paul is referring to is simply the resurrection life of Christ being manifested through us in this life. When Paul spoke of salvation he was never thinking (as most do) of a singular decision that results in life after death. To Paul, salvation was a process where the life of Christ is always being worked out by way of resurrection power in our every day eating, drinking, playing and working lives. In the context of our hearts and lives, each of us  is preaching some version of the gospel at all times. This is why Paul says…

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

So what does resurrection power look like in the process of living. Our passage explains……

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

For Paul to succeed in his mission he knows he must also convey that this salvation process is anything but a solo journey. He wants us to know that we have each been grafted into a single Body so that we now belong to one to another. I suspect this is why he said working out our salvation comes with some fear and trembling. The process of being transformed into the image of Christ does not happen without the messy, high friction dynamic of being together. This is why “one other” is mentioned 100 times in the NT. Those words “friction” and  “messy” provoke a bit of fear and trembling for most of us western believers with our comfortable and relatively well-ordered lives.

It might seem daunting for us to see that the love-relational bar has been set at such an impossible height; Really! None of us can love as Jesus does! And Jesus said that his is an easy burden?! Right. But here is the good news. It is in fact impossible. We can’t do it in our own strength. Living and loving like Christ can only be done as we reckon with the reality of its impossibility and the fact that we have died in Christ and have been raised up with him in newness of Life. Now that is a mystery! We will clear the bar in Christ. Walking on water might seem impossible but it has been done. All things are possible with God. Since it is in our weakness He can becomes our strength, the impossible is one of God’s favorite haunts.

I believe that as the life of Christ, (not the religion of Christianity) finds its native resurrection expressions within the community of Christ, which is the only place disciples can be birthed and nurtured, the kingdom gospel will finally be proclaimed as disciples are finally being reproduced in the Body of Christ. Is it possible that community will be the source of all those laborer-disciples who are needed in the harvest that Jesus said was ripe for harvest?

Father, as those who are being saved by and have been caught up into a great Mystery our hearts may need to let go of things we are hedging our bets with. Only you know what those things might be. Please flush us out Lord so that our hearts can return to childlikeness, where our they are enabled and willing to see the unseen and trust without understanding.












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