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(Part 3)


September 11, 2017
Today’s reading: Colossians 1:24-2:3

Being destined for greatness, God’s people are called to holiness, servant leadership and God’s divine mission. The dimension of greatness is threefold. One, God’s mysteries are “manifested to his holy ones” (v.1:26b). Two, just like Paul, we are to be “a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship” (v.1:25a). Three, our mission is to “proclaim (Christ), admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom” (v.28a). These are awesome. We are called to be holy as God is holy; we are entrusted as ministers and stewards with God’s divine work; we are to complete the proclamation of the gospel of salvation in Jesus.

But there is more. Paul is the apostle par excellence, and in him we can look to the greatness of the work that awaits us all, as we walk in the footsteps of Jesus in imitation of Paul. We will see that God’s call is awesomely amazing.

First, Paul makes a remarkable statement: “in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (v.1:24b). Is there something lacking in Christ’s sacrificial total giving of self? Of course not. There is nothing we can add to what Jesus has done to win salvation for all. But what we are called to do is to proclaim that salvation, so that people might accept it and be brought to faith in Jesus. God has entrusted us to continue his work in and for the Church. If we do not do so, Jesus’ sacrifice would be for naught. In effect, God has made Himself dependent upon His people to accomplish His will and purpose. Doing God’s own work is greatness.

Second, Paul is a minister through whom God’s people receive “the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.” (v.1:26a). God is mystery, for who has known the mind of God, who is eternal? But God makes known to His people the mysteries of the Kingdom. In particular, that mystery “is Christ in you, the hope for glory.” (v.1:27b). But there is much more to know about Christ and the workings of the Kingdom. Thus God Himself imparts His wisdom and knowledge to His people. Being instruments of God’s revelation of His mysteries is greatness.

Third, Paul says his stewardship is “to bring to completion for you the word of God” (v.1:25b). God has revealed Himself, first through His people Israel and second through His own Son Jesus. Such revelation is contained in His own written word, the Bible, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. God intends His people to understand the length and breadth and height and depth of His revelation, the fullness of His written word and His living Word. Being called to help complete God’s word is greatness.

Fourth, the goal in proclaiming Christ is “that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” (v.1:28b). We are called to holiness, to be holy as God is holy. That means Christian perfection, to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. This is the destiny of God’s people. Could anything be greater than that?

All of these are a great mystery. Indeed Paul keeps saying so. He says “God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles” (v.1:27a). He says God’s people are “to have all the richness of fully assured understanding, for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (v.2:2b-3). Such wonders are manifested only to those whom God has destined for greatness. The riches, the glory, the treasures­all given to those destined for greatness.

We need to know these things, and to tell God’s people these things, so “that their hearts may be encouraged as they are brought together in love” (v.2:2a). And who will do this? We are among those called. Just like Paul, we are to give our all, even for those whom we do not know and have not seen. “For I want you to know how great a struggle I am having for you and for those in Laodicea and all who have not seen me face to face” (v.2:1). For such greatness, we must be willing to engage in a great struggle. Just like Paul. “For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me.” (v.1:29).

What a wondrous task! It will not be easy, but it will be great. There will be suffering and pain, but it will be salvific. And so we have the posture of Paul: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake” (v.1:24a). A great task, done with great struggle, but with the great power provided by God, filled with great joy.

This is what it means to be destined for greatness.

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