Colossians 1:24-2:19; Ezekiel 27-28; Isaiah 54
Every year around Christmas, one of those “ya gotta see this movie!” movies comes out. It’s the one that people have been waiting all year, or longer, to see. We had another one of those movies this year. Some people lined up to be able to see the midnight showing at the first possible moment. Others, like me, wait until the crowds settle down. While there’s a bit of anxiety for people like me, because we want to know what happens, you’ll see many different social media reminders not to give spoilers about the movie. Some of the reminders are a bit more dramatic than others, but it’s generally considered good social media etiquette to avoid posting spoilers or, to let people know ahead of time whether a review comes with spoilers or not.
We don’t want anyone to spoil the surprise, the mystery of the movie, for us. We want it to unfold before us like the director intended. Still, there are those people who want to reveal the mystery to us, just because they can. Mysteries grab our attention. We want to know “whodunnit.” We want to figure out the answer to a problem. The drawing power of a mystery was used by many in ancient Greece and Rome as “mystery religions” flourished. These religions were closed to all but those who knew the mystery, and those who had gained the opportunity to be initiated into the mystery religion, which probably came about from interest, and a monetary donation (I would guess.) Paul often couched his language, when talking about following Christ, in ways that built on the mystery religion tradition. “To them [the Lord’s People] 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.” (Colossians 1:27-28 NIV)
In this passage, Paul reveals the “mystery” that’s at the heart of Christian beliefs: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Paul doesn’t tell the Colossians to keep that mystery hidden though, he reminds them that God has chosen them to make that “mystery” known to all the Gentiles. They’re call was to proclaim that mystery, that gospel without charging people for the message. Paul exemplified that by working as a tent maker during his missionary journeys so that he wouldn’t be “that” preacher who came in and fleeced the flock, and then left. While some churches, such as the church at Philippi, decided to support him, that was done out of love, not under compulsion. The ultimate goal of Paul, and of all Christians is to proclaim Christ and present people fully mature in Christ.
Sometimes, I wonder what it means to be fully mature in Christ. If Paul were to look at me, would he call Jesus over and say, “Here Jesus, this one’s fully mature,” or would he tell me “you still have a long way to go.” We all have room to grow in our relationship with Christ. As you read through the Bible, it’s clear that the way to grow in Christ is by letting the Holy Spirit take more and more control of our lives. Paul reminded the Galatians that they began their walk with Christ because of the Spirit moving in their lives, and that they should grow in Christ because of the Spirit moving in their lives. As the Spirit moves in our lives, things will change. We should become better people. We should become more loving and gracious. Followers of Christ will have differences in what they consider acceptable behaviors to be, based on how the Spirit has led them, but we will all hold to this “mystery” – “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” As the song says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”
Lord, my hope is in You. You alone are the hope of the world. Help me to proclaim that message to all people that Christ in them is the hope of glory.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.