The goal is lofty. The way to get there though, is within our grasp.
Paul writes to the Colossians in order to correct the error which was creeping into their midst and destabilizing their faith. He had already been praying for these believers–that they would know the will of Christ “in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (1:9-10). And now, through his letter, he wants to encourage them.
And, as a I read in Colossians 2 this morning, Paul puts before them his great desire for them, and, in essence, says the best way to achieve it is together.
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of Gods mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
(Colossians 2:1-3 ESV)
Imagine that conversation:
What do you want to do with your life?
Oh, I don’t know, maybe to be in touch with everything there is to know of God (MSG). To have complete confidence that I understand Gods mysterious plan, which is Christ Himself (NLT).
How’s that for a personal mission statement? To reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery? Pretty massive goal. But Paul says you don’t need to look far–it’s found in Christ.
If the heavens declare the glory of God, Christ reveals the essence of God. It’s how God has spoken to His creation in these last days (Heb. 1:2-3). Christ being the shining reflection of God’s glory and the exact expression of God’s being. Jesus Himself said, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9).
So the target is set and the way is identified. So how do we best get there? Paul says it’s a team sport, happening as God’s people are “knit together in love.”
Sure, Paul talks about the athlete who runs the race, pressing on for the prize, and the boxer who avoids beating the air (1Cor. 9:24-27). But the race isn’t an individual sprint, it’s a team marathon. And though the boxer might have to step into the ring alone, it would be foolish for him to think he can do so, and go more than a couple of rounds, without people in his corner. And so, though we may aspire to Paul’s goal that we reach the riches of full assurance, we need to recognize that it happens best as we do so knit together in love.
Shame on those in the body of Christ who say we don’t need the body of Christ. That somehow, we don’t need the family of God to fully know the Son of God.
God’s designed it such that we can reach all the riches of full assurance if we press on together. The Head of the Church has gifted the Church with those who can equip the saints for the work of the ministry for the building up of the Church–“until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” It’s as we truth together in love that we grow up and reach for the riches. Each part doing it’s part so that every part grows. The body “building itself up in love” (Eph. 4:11-16).
The prize is priceless and the race is worth running. But it’s a team sport.
By God’s grace. For God’s glory.