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. – Colossians 1:27
There are three words in this little text I want to focus on:
Mystery, Hope and Glory
Sometimes when we don’t understand something we say, “It’s a mystery.” The word, mystery, stirs up the idea of “mysterious” such as “I wonder what happened to that money I just put there – It is gone. That is mysterious.” When St. Paul uses the word, mystery, that is not what he has is mind. What St. Paul means by mystery is that something which has been hidden until this moment. Of course, once it is revealed or uncovered, it’s not a mystery anymore, is it?
For many years humanity did not understand the way diseases were transmitted. Our ancestors did not understand the concept of germs. It was a mystery. One day, Louis Pasteur, figured it out. He explained to us the connection. Even then we didn’t really get how it worked. It took another person, Ignaz Semmelweis, to understand that people working in hospitals were transporting germs from one person to another. He introduced the idea of handwashing for hospital personnel who moved from one patient to another. The truth was there all along – then the mystery was uncovered and explained.
On a spiritual level, the reality of God’s love and concern for us was always there. God has always loved his creation. One day the fullness of his love was revealed – he came to live and die among us.
There is another reality – God is always alive in us. This is a mystery often hidden to many people.
Christ in you! Uncover the mystery!
This mystery is called hope. What is hope? Hope is about expectancy. We say, “I hope it will be a nice day tomorrow.” Or we might say, “I hope they will serve a nice dinner today.”
Christian faith has this kind of hope in mind when it talks about a future day when the world, as we know it ends, and is human history culminates in the return of Christ. St. Paul encourages to live in light of this expectancy and to let their lives display this expectancy.
There is another dimension of hope in the Bible. To hope is to wait or to trust. We sometimes use hope in this way when we say, “I hope my check comes today.” What we really mean is “I am waiting for my check.”
This kind of hoping or waiting is often trying and testing. We become impatient, even irritable, waiting for the mail or a visitor to arrive.
When the Bible talks about this kind of hope, it encourages to understand that this kind of waiting is to our benefit. Waiting or hoping makes us better people. We are changed into people of character as we wait!
The third word in our text is glory.
Christ in you is the hope of glory. What is St. Paul saying?
Glory is one of those words that represents something else. One simple word represents so much more. Glory is the fullness of God. Glory is shorthand for all God’s greatness, power, love, grace, mercy and love. Just as Jesus was the fullness of God’s glory; we are filled with the fullness of God’s glory.
We are not talking about some new age theory. We are talking about the reality of the Gospel which is often not taught or understood.
Remember we said hope is about expectancy. God is expectantly waiting to be fully revealed in you and me. The word, you, in our text is not singular, it is plural. What does this mean? Each of us does not in ourselves fully reveal the fullness of God; together we begin to reveal the fullness of God’s life in the world. This is why the church is called the Body of Christ. Just as the eye is not the fullness of body or the foot is the fullness of body, so one of us, by ourselves, is not the fullness of the body of Christ in the world. This is why we need each other. I need you to reveal your piece of the glory!
Someone in your life and my life needs to know that they are not fighting the battle of life alone. They need to see the piece of God’s greatness in me and you.
This was presented as a message at Glencroft Retirement Community, Glendale, AZ on September 18, 2016
© Ronald Friesen 2016