Colossians 2:1 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…9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness…13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled tqhe charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
The word “you” is used twenty-two times in the first fourteen verses of this Chapter. You is a personal pronoun. The Apostle begins with simple words “I want you to know how hard I am contending for you… and for all who have not met me personally.” It only takes a couple more verses before he’s swept away that separation of knowing him personally, and time. I’m certain grammar and pronouns were the furthest things from Paul’s mind when he wrote this Word but his goal is still alive and well because of them. We’ve become part of the inner circle of “the mystery of God, namely, Christ” in you. “God made you alive with Christ,”
The impersonal has been swept away because of these words written so long ago by a man we’ve never met. Here’s the grand finale. It’s very personal, we’re now part of the inner circle of Christ. The indisputable confirmation of Scripture being Living Word is it still speaks loud and clear to the heart today with two more pronouns – us and our.
“He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”
NIV Colossians 1:19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Christ], 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel…28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
Maybe you’re wondering why my mind searches for such different ways to read Scripture each morning. It’s really pretty simple…I desire to do it but I have to look for ways to trick my mind into denying the lie that I already “know it all.” It’s not a particularly flattering confession but sometimes concentrating on one word or idea from Scripture is what God uses to reconcile the mystery of those two very different realities for me. That word from this Word is “fullness.”
“God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ]” “and through him to reconcile to himself all things.” Once I was “alienated from God” but God in Christ has changed my mind and given me what I need. Mystery solved! It’s a new reality that’s become a promise I can depend on from “the hope held out in the gospel: ”fullness…mine because of his.
V28 MSG The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple.
Today I’m experimenting with the idea that AND is like a blinking light to pay attention to when I read Scripture. I might be tempted to skip right over that one little word until I remember AND links the words or phrases either side of it to emphasize they go together. So here goes…
Colossians 1-13: Segments direct from the NIV.
4 …we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus AND of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith AND love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven AND about which you have already heard…6 …the gospel is bearing fruit AND growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it AND truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 AND who also told us of your love in the Spirit. 9 … We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom AND understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord AND please him in every way… 11 …so that you may have great endurance AND patience. 12 AND giving joyful thanks to the Father…13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness AND brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…
Your faith in Christ AND love for all God’s people happened because of a hope stored up for you in heaven. That hope allowed you to hear the true message of the Gospel AND see it bearing fruit AND growing. You learned about God’s grace AND your love in the Spirit came to life in visible ways.
The Spirit gives you wisdom AND understanding so you really can live a life worthy of the Lord AND please him with your joyful thanks. You’ve been rescued from darkness AND brought into the kingdom of the son he loves in whom we have redemption AND the forgiveness of sins.
Romans 15:5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
AND – a conjunction used to connect words of the same part of speech, clauses, or sentences that are to be taken jointly.
There are some people who can thrive and grow together debating their significant differences on various topics. I want to be one of them. I’d rather talk about the things that we agree on even though I may think something different. That’s not endurance or encouragement, that’s avoidance. Mind and voice are not exclusive, they’re connected by divine design. That’s how I happened to notice every “and” in these two verses of Romans. That one little word can make such a big difference in my “attitude of mind” if I pay attention to my need for it.
It’s become the basis of my simple prayer for today. “May the God who gives…” give me endurance AND encouragement; one mind AND one voice so we can grow AND thrive together to glorify the God AND father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. ” [followed by the rest of Paul’s long list].
Most of us know how to control our behavior so we “look” acceptable but we’ve all been tripped up by “stinkin’ thinkin’.” That’s the root of every thing on the list of things Paul says to avoid. That’s the darkness he’s talking about. Where in the world does that come from?
Good behavior can clean up the outside but it doesn’t wipe away the hidden and unbidden ideas that slip into our mind or show up in a dream. What if they are our personal moments of awakening when what is buried in our mind is revealed to us? “This is why it is said: Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
“…Ideas have consequences — consequences that bless or destroy. People’s behavior — good and bad — does not come out of nowhere. It comes from prevailing views of reality that take root in the mind and bring forth good or evil.” From John Piper in Solid Joys.
Don’t miss your opportunity to “wake up;” to pray and confess those hidden and unbidden thoughts so Christ can change and renew that which is beyond your control – the secret parts of your mind.
Ephesians 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
This chapter read like it was the “should and don’t” chapter. I completely agreed with the “should and don’t” lists. Of course I would; I’m still repenting of being a “should and don’t” person. After looking at the whole chapter for a few days I’ve come to believe my first assessment of the chapter was “futility” thinking. I mistakenly got so caught up in the “should and don’t” list I missed the real point.
“Should and don’t” are like the back-door delivery system for renewal and transformation. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t believe God sends his servants to the back door.
This is the real point of the “should and don’t” list: to be captured by the Lord so our longing is more than to work the list. We long to let the Lord change our minds so we can be renewed and transformed right right out in plain sight.
“Every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” is our “one hope” to “live a life worthy of the calling” we “have received…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Insist on it!
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. NIV
Creatively writing about the Word and how it impacts my daily life has become a form of prayer for me. “Creativity” and “God’s mercy” are all I’ve got when I write. There are no theological credits after my name. My words feel like a sacrifice of worship. When I see them in black and white I begin to recognize the challenges of the renewal and transformation of my own mind. Writing becomes a metaphor for that process: pray, read, write, edit, rewrite, think, pray again and finally post what I’ve written knowing full well the moment I hit “Publish” there will be better words and further editing to come.
“We let our mind descend into our heart and there stand in the presence of God.” Henri Nouwen in Spiritual Direction
MSG Romans 12:1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Life is familiar, complicated and sometimes even confusing. I want to honor God. I want to be faithful. I want to be obedient. I want to do what’s right. I want to be a good citizen. I want to be a good wife. There’s nothing in that list I have’t failed at more than once. There are just times when I need to hear: “So here’s what I want you to do…”
As I thought about the rest of these two verses it reminded me of when our children were small [back in the olden days]. There were little handmade gifts often prompted by a teacher in school, maybe more a duty than the reality of their own hearts at the time. Sometimes they were made of pieces of crumpled tissue paper in the shape of a heart glued to construction paper and decorated with their own shaky printing. They were childish efforts meant to express some level of caring. I saved them for many years and eventually some were returned to their “all grown-up” creators. It was a way to let them know their simple gifts had been my treasures.
I think that must be how God deals with our offerings. Ordinary life offerings may feel more like duty but they are the reality of our own heart right then. They don’t have much material value but he saves them to be returned to you. Our simple gifts are the treasures God creates our blessings from.
“So here’s what I want you to do…
• If the only way you honored God this week was to swallow some critical words rather than speak them…
•if the only way you were faithful was to open your Bible first even though you didn’t really feel the inspiration…
• if you did the right thing even when it wasn’t what you really wanted to do…
• if the whole political environment makes you want to gripe more than pray…
• if after decades of marriage you’re still in a slight period of adjustment…
Those are the crumpled pieces of tissue that are the shape of your heart at this moment. Add your own shaky words of confession …”and place it before God as an offering…fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”
That’s the blessing that will be returned to you [soorner rather than later I hope]. It’s your treasure “pressed down, shaken together, and running over” to remind you how priceless a childish gift really is to God. Amen!
6. Matthew 6:9 This, then, is how you should pray:..[“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”]
I was surprised to discover the familiar last line I know of the Lord’s Prayer is only footnoted in many versions of the Bible. There’s a complicated issue of texts, dates and translations but the bottom line is many Christians have used it in worship since about 90AD when the Bible was completed. [click here for more details]
The words “familiar” and “complicated” in the same paragraph seem important to me. Familiar is comfortable and that’s what makes it complicated. I’m often quite comfortable in this complicated world. It’s easy to remember this is definitely not heaven…but forget it’s still part of God’s kingdom. He’s given familiar things to remind me His glory can be found even in such a complicated place. There’s comfort in the power of his Word and prayers to strengthen my desire to pray for the assurance he will unite our today with His forever.