Knowing Jesus: Go deeper and mature
Reading:1 Colossians 1:24 – 2:5 (TNIV)
24 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. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 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.28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
1 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
In my Christmas Midnight sermon (http://www.bath.ac.uk/chaplaincy/reflection.php?id=25) I encouraged us to look afresh at the Gospel truth of Jesus. I suggested three different moves:
To look up
To turn and look ahead
This is a “heart look” or “soul look”, rather than a “head (knowledge) look”.
In this passage Paul deepens this journey and encourages us to do so. We see Paul’s passion for Christ’s people – the emerging church.
Hear Paul’s desire to open our minds to this wonder, the glorious riches of Christ - the word in all its fullness. Mystery is a word that some would say we shouldn’t use. “Surely we know and see Christ clearly now”, they say. Well yes, but I think the word is still a good word, capturing the unknowable part of our faith – “the hope of Glory”. How is it that, despite hardships of health or wellbeing that are threatening, we can feel a hope and peace after prayer? That is a mystery. The “certainty of hope in the mystery of God” is a phrase that I have often used in ministry to the dying. “Despite our questions, Lord, help us to know, believe and trust in you”. Christ offers hope in every circumstance. We can know the mystery of God, namely Christ, and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Paul urges his readers (us) to let themselves become mature, to proclaim to, admonish and teach each other; to become full of the riches, to gain complete understanding. He warns us not to be deceived by fine sounding arguments. We are to develop a firm faith in Christ, and Paul will delight to see “how disciplined we are”.
Paul tells of his striving for the people he is writing to, and in so doing encourages us to strive – for each other and for ourselves. We disciple each other, and allow ourselves to be discipled. There is conscious work here. This is a rich experience of the Holy Spirit, as we actively align ourselves to Him, to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12: 1-2).
He is writing to the churches in Colosse and Laodicea – the latter becoming one of the seven churches mentioned by John at the start of Revelation. I wonder if they were already becoming lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, insipid, self sufficient (or satisfied), not seeing the need for God; a church that was about to be “spat out”.
So what is Paul saying to us? I think he is guiding us to:
Go deeper, be gentle with ourselves
Build a firm faith
Really Know Jesus
The following is helpful. It was given to me when was “working something out…”
“The spiritual life”
is life drawn from the Holy Spirit
who raised Jesus from the dead
and turns the whole world intro a new creation.
The Spirit within you
will bear fruit
of simplicity and goodness,
modesty and joy,
sobriety and gentleness.
He will give you interior freedom
and bring your live to perfection.
He will make you into a new person.
So don’t carry on a futile battle against yourself,
don’t divide yourself into good and evil,
resist the temptation to analyse yourself –
turn your attention to the Lord instead,
and be deeply receptive.
Accept yourself in His light
And concentrate on the mission
You have to accomplish.
God’s Spirit will bring you to simplicity
in an undivided dedication
To Him and to your fellow creatures.
He gives you no programme
But the chance of turning yourself towards love
hour by hour.
And so Spiritual life is not a burden
but a liberating vocation.
It is much more a matter of simplifying
than of complicated methods
and extraordinary performances.
(from “Rule for a new brother” ISBN 0-232-51687-1
– given to me in June 1999 and ending my “long Lent”)
Glorious riches, maturity, deepening:
Jesus says to the church in Laodicea “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.” (Revelation 3: 20)
In my Christmas sermon I described how Anna heard this knock, opened the door and beheld Jesus with a “heart look“. She believed!
I believe that this is a continuous invitation. As we see ourselves truly, as we repent, as we turn, look up, re-awaken, and as we seek to be transformed, let us look with our heart / soul, open our “door” wider, and enjoy the embrace and time with our lord.