Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness–the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. (Colossians 1:24-29 NIV)
My wife and I love mysteries. We love to read them, and we love to watch them. I’m always pleased when I figure out the solution before the end of the last chapter or before the last 5 minutes of the show. It is a good mystery if my wife hasn’t figured it out before the end of the first chapter or the first commercial break. Unfortunately, our modern understanding of mystery distorts our perception of mystery from God’s perspective. A mystery to Paul was something known by God that was kept secret or hidden until God determined to reveal it. It remains a mystery because it was once hidden, but the purpose in revealing it is to ensure everyone knows the secret.
The mystery is that God wants to live inside us and He also wants us to live inside Him. Paul understands that his purpose is to do everything he can to see that everyone becomes more and more like Jesus. This requires change in us. We often talk about this change being from the inside out and I think that is true. I think it is also true that when we are “in Christ” there is opportunity for change from the outside in.
As believers in Jesus we are part of the body of Christ. As we are in a community of believers we are in Christ. This body is no more perfect than our individual selves. In it we are confronted with those imperfections and challenged to change and grow as we learn to love and trust both God and others. The strength and the motivation to do this comes from Christ in us. The more we let Christ who is in us shape us as individuals, the more we will see Christ in the community that is His body.
The mystery is this, Christ in you, the hope of glory. Paul expresses that he is working very hard to see this mystery become a reality among the Colossians. The energy to do that work comes from Christ in him. That’s the only way this works. Each of us on our own is too weak to do the work God has laid out for us. Fortunately, God is more than capable of providing the strength and energy we need to pursue His purpose for us.
For my grandchildren:
Jesus is in you and around you. Let Jesus change you.