Colossians 1:24 "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily."
There are two major themes in this passage. One I will cover briefly and the second I will put more focus on.
First Paul talks about what He does and why he does it. Paul is a man who is all in and going all out for Christ. He is fully invested.
It is over a year later and people still ask me why we moved to Grande Prairie. When the possibility came up one person specifically was trying to convince me to come. I told her if we were not convinced it was God's will we wouldn't come no matter how good it might be here and if we were convinced it was His will we would come no matter how bad it might be. Location, task, finances, convenience, appeal - none of those factors come into play when God makes his will known.
Paul is simply saying he is committed 150% to following Christ and making him known at any cost. Yesterday we talked about freedom and choice. At some point we each must decide we are either all in or not. You can't be half married. It's all in or a mess.
The second and more important point in this passage is a deepening understanding of the gospel. Without a comprehensive view of Scripture you would likely miss it but here is what Paul said: "To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
For millennia humanity has had a pretty vague view and understanding of God until Jesus came. That is not to say they had no understanding. Through the faith of Abraham God built a family of faith and from that family a nation. Under the leadership of Moses God created the priesthood and had them build a sanctuary. All of it was designed to help them understand God and His plan better. At that time He said: "Build Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among you." When the sanctuary was complete God literally though the visual manifestation of a glorious bright cloud "lived in" the sanctuary. The people could "see" Him.
Later on King Solomon built a permanent temple to replace the tent Moses had built in the wilderness. Again when it was completed God filled the Most Holy above the ark with the glorious cloud indication His presence among them.
Later that temple was destroyed and a new one built. When it was completed it was inferior in every way to Solomon's temple and God never "showed up" to fill the Most Holy. However He declared through His prophet Haggai that the glory of this latest temple would exceed Solomon's. How?
In John 1:14 it says "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory..." God became a man and used the temple on many occasions to teach and reveal the glory of God. By His personal presence and ministry this temple far exceeded the elusive cloud confined to a space the people could not enter.
Phase 1 - God lived among us veiled in a cloud inside a building that was inaccessible to the people yet He was undeniably present.
Phase 2 - God became one of us and did not just occupy the temple but traveled all over meeting humanity where they were. He ate with us and cried with us and touched even the lepers. He was Emmanuel, God with us.
Phase 3 - This phase is to be exponentially more intimate than phase 2. The glory of it will far exceed the former. The truth is Christianity is still struggling to comprehend the implications of the full manifestation of Phase 3. Pentecost revealed a taste of it but even that was a shadow.
"Christ in you the hope of glory".
God in a building, then God among us as one of us yet nothing like us, then the grand finale - God in us.
We will never receive what we do not believe.
"Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
God has no plans for a temple in Jerusalem. We are the final temple. He lived in Adam and Eve and to make the restoration complete He will live in us again and sin and sinners will be no more.
Deep stuff. A reality only God can bring about. Are we all in or are we like Judas? The choice is ours, the work is His. The promise is grand: "He who has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it."