All week long we have been learning about a mystery, starting here! In Colossians 1, verse 27, Paul tells us that the mystery has glorious riches. Glory refers to the concept of splendor, of remarkable appearance. The second word, riches, refers to abundant riches. In fact, the particular word Paul uses for “riches” often has a negative connotation because of the sheer amount of the wealth associated with this kind of riches. We would call it filthy rich. So Paul is saying that this mystery whatever it is, is gloriously abundant. It so, so good. It is overflowing with goodness.
So what is the mystery? Are you ready for the revealing of the mystery? The mystery is this: Christ in you, the hope of glory.
This was hidden for a long, long time, Paul says. But now it is revealed. And it is gloriously rich. What is Christ in you, the hope of glory?
“Christ in you” is the teaching that somehow or another it is possible for Christ to be in us, and what comes with that is the hope of glory. Is Paul just saying that when we have Christ in us, we have the hope of eternal life? We often call heaven our home in Glory. Is that what Paul meant?
Yes, but it is not only that. It is more. Paul is saying that this glorious richness is that all people can know Christ now, experiencing Christ now, “in you,” in us, which means there is an astounding glorious richness that we can experience now, but it is more than that, because it also means a hope of future glory.
Christ in you now. The glorious richness in you now. And hope of future glory! This is precisely what Jesus described when he said that he came so that we can experience abundant life now and have the hope of eternal life in the future.
What a powerful thought.
But I have to admit it is a thought that can cause Christians some confusion or frustration. Why?
Well, let me ask you this: How much do we have a genuine sense of these glorious riches? How much do we experience Christ in us? Hope of future glory sure is nice, and can put our minds at ease, maybe for a time, but we live in the here and now. We face the struggles and pressures and anxieties of the here and now. It is nice to have hope of glory, but Paul is saying that’s not all there is. We should experience Christ in the now, Paul says. Why? Because Christ is in us.
How about you? Do you experience Christ now?
What does Paul intend for us to experience? Christ in you. Well, what does that mean? Are we supposed to feel something? Are we supposed to have Jesus’ thoughts running through our minds, like a voice in our head? If so, why do we so rarely or never hear that voice? Or is “Christ in you” something else?
The glorious riches of Christ in you, the hope of glory sounds super poetic and amazing, until we ask, “What does it feel like?” Or is just something that we are supposed to believe, but it really has no bearing on our lives? What do we do if we don’t have an experience of Jesus?
I’ve wrestled with this. In fact, last week I mentioned the retreat I went on: a Retreat in Daily Life, and it included daily times of prayer, Bible study, quiet meditation and then spiritual direction. I admitted to my spiritual director that so often I don’t have a feeling or present experience of Jesus. How about you?
Hold that thought for the next two posts in the series, because Paul mentions the mystery again. Skip ahead a few verses to chapter 2, verses 2 and 3, where he tells the Colossians that he struggles for them, so they can be encouraged in heart, united in love, experiencing the full riches of complete understanding in order to know the mystery of God, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
There’s that word mystery again. And the word riches again too. This time, though, he says that the riches are “complete understanding, the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
I’m starting to think that our mystery story has turned in a hidden treasure story. The mystery has been revealed, the treasure map has been deciphered. The treasures are all in Christ. And Christ is in you. So all the vast riches of understanding and wisdom and knowledge, are in Christ and Christ is in you.
By the way, the word “you” there is a plural. In the ancient Greek in which Paul wrote, there are different words for “you” to make it clear when the writer is referring to one you (the singular), or when the writer is referring to a group (the plural). Paul uses the group “you.” We might say in English, “you all.” But that doesn’t mean that there is no individual understanding here, as if Christ is in the church family, but not in each individual. It is both. Christ in you individually, and in the church collectively. That is where this passage is so important. Christ in you. How is Christ in you?
Check back in to the next post as we’ll learn more!