Psalm 125:1-5, Colossians 1:24-29
June 10, 2012
Last week we were talking about the Trinity, and we focused in on Jesus. As we did so, we got to read this wonderful passage from Colossians in which the Apostle Paul lays out, in no uncertain terms, “the supremacy and all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ.” “He is” as he writes “the visible image of the invisible God. For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”
Don’t you love it when Paul gets on a roll? That is amazing writing! And it sounds very definitive and complete, doesn’t it? I think that’s one of the best descriptions of Jesus in all of Scripture. In no uncertain terms, Paul affirms that when you’re talking about Jesus, you’re talking about God himself.
Well this week, I didn’t want to leave that passage too soon! I didn’t want us to leave that stream of thought, without seeing and understanding Paul’s conclusion. Because this is about more than just who Jesus is. It’s also about how that affects us. Paul wanted the people to know, not only that Jesus was the Christ – the anointed one – for all people (Including those Gentiles) but also that the “Riches of God’s Glory” are known “through this mystery – Christ in you, the hope of Glory.”
Those are incredible words! When Jesus promised to be with us always, it was more than just a kind of “out of body,” spiritual presence, with the spirit of Jesus walking beside us in this life. This was about the fact that Jesus dwells in our hearts! That’s an amazing thought. Part of God lives within us! When I was in seminary, they taught us not to overuse the words “amazing” and “incredible.” But in this case they’re the perfect words! “Christ in us” is both “amazing” and “incredible!” I want you to think about that for today.
For a number of years our youth group went to Wildwood for the youth conference known as “A Closer Walk.” Somewhere around here there are pictures of our youth at that event. Well, a couple of years ago they had t-shirts made up to wear at that event that said “Jesus Inside.” (Show shirt) You computer people will recognize this as an adaptation of the logo of the Intel company that said “Intel Inside.”
That’s what came to mind when I thought about this passage. That’s what came to mine when I was thinking of this “mystery” Paul was talking about. And that’s the thought I’d like us to consider today – Christ in us. This is not just “knowing about” Christ. It’s not even just about “knowing Christ.” And believe me, that’s important! This is about the kind of relationship we have when we know that we have “Christ in us.”
Frankly, we could spend all day – or all of our lives – thinking about that “mystery,” and still not understand it! I hope you see that. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to put that concept into my brain! So I’d like to take a moment and let it sink into yours. We say God lives in our hearts by faith. But how can that be.? Are really saying that this is about a little part of God living in us? And does that make any sense when we think that it’s a matter of one being, living in some way inside of millions of people?
That’s a mind-boggling thought!! (I think they told us not to overuse that word, too!) But it’s so “amazing” and so “important” (and all those other words!) that I’d like us to think about it – for more than a moment! In fact, I’d like you all to take this one phrase with you today and continue to think about it. I want it to bounce around in your head. “Christ in you.” You could think about that for the rest of your life and still not understand the full implications of it! But try anyway! I’ll remind you about that just before we close!
Before I do that, though, I want to point out something else in this passage. Paul talks about two things I think are very important in the faith – Riches and Glory. You’ve heard me talk about those things before. Too often Christians miss those things. They see their faith as little more than “fire insurance.” They believe what is “required” so that they’ll avoid the consequences – so that they’ll avoid Hell. They’re not all that convinced that Heaven is so wonderful a place, but they don’t want to be left out in the cold – or the heat, actually!
But this faith is so much more than that. And sometimes when I read Paul’s writing it seems to me that this is something he newly discovered when he came to the faith. He writes like a man who had more than his eyes opened that day in Damascus! He writes like one who had his heart opened, too. After a life of rigid service to the law, and teaching that to others, it’s like the “scales” fell off of his heart, and he finally understood that God’s kingdom is about the riches and glory and Joy!
When we are truly God’s people we are open, not just to his redemption, but to the richness and glory of his kingdom. The more I think of it, the more that’s the most important thing! Not the redemption. And don’t get me wrong, redemption is wonderful! It’s something for which I am eternally grateful. I hope you are, too! But what really matters is the Joy of the Lord, it’s his richness and glory. That’s what God wants for us! We are his beloved children! He doesn’t want for us just salvation. He wants the life of glory in this world and the next. That’s the reason for which we were created!
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Sometimes this life is awful!” “Sometimes I’m experiencing anything but richness and glory!” I know. I feel that way sometimes, too! And that’s the problem, isn’t it? Too often we think that we only know richness and glory when we have richness and glory in this life. But God tells us, and so would Paul, that we have those things, not from the worldly experience of them, but through the God who gives them to us – despite what our worldly experience may be! Let me say that again. We have richness and glory, not from the worldly experience of them, but through the God who gives them to us – despite what our worldly experience may be!
We know glory because we’ve been given glory, not because we feel it. That’s not easy, though. Our feelings do tend to get the better of us, and we start to think the other way around. We think because we don’t feel the glory we don’t have the glory. And because of that, remembering God’s glory when we’re going through the tough times of life can be very hard! That’s where the “Christ in us” comes in! It is through his dwelling in our hearts that we remember that we have those things at all times. Again, he’s not just “walking beside us” – which is a wonderful metaphor! He’s living within us!
So then the question is, how do we live that? For one thing we need to remember to listen to and trust the voice of Christ within us. It’s too easy to ignore him, isn’t it? We need to remember to listen. And then we need to know by faith – by the fact that we have faith – that we have that “hope of glory.” And we have it not because we create it, or because we deserve it, but because we know the God who gives it to us purely through his infinite love! And that’s also something we could contemplate for a long, long time and not be able to fathom!
So, I hope that’s a lot to think about! And I hope you will! And to that end, I’d like to close today by reading this one verse one more time and hopefully helping it to stick in your mind today. “…God chose to make known how great …are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Do you have that hope of glory? I hope you know that little better today. And I hope this phrase will go around in your head – like a song you can’t stop singing. Remember, “Christ in you!”
Eternal God, we are grateful today for the mystery of Christ in us. Help us to think about that, help us to know that. Help us to live in the joy of your kingdom no matter what this life brings us. For this we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.