It sits in the shade, as it should. But glorious truth in the shade of “glorious-er” truth should still be jaw-dropping. But sometimes we become accustomed to that which should evoke awe, too familiar with that which should foster praise, perhaps even weary of hearing again about that which should be a catalyst for worship.
As I reflect on it, ask me what’s the magnum opus of Colossians 1 and I’m immediately going to Christ, the image of the invisible God, the creator and sustainer of all things. The One in whom all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (1:15-21). Strike up the band! Cue the choir of angels! That’s the apex of awe and wonder.
But this morning I’m chewing on what’s in the shade of Christ, the Head. While no less marveling at the Head, it’s the wonder commanded at His Body which spikes the awe-o-meter.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to His saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
(Colossians 1:24-27 ESV)
His body, the church.
The mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed.
The riches of the glory of this mystery is Christ in you.
For all that was foretold and foreshadowed of the promised Messiah in the prophetic records of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets, nobody would have guessed all that it meant for Messiah to come.
That He would deliver a people out of bondage to the flesh, freeing them from sin and death, just as God had delivered a people out of Egypt from slavery and oppression? That was hinted at pretty clearly. That the eternal Heir to David’s throne would govern over a people of His own? Yup, it’s there — even though the kingdom come was established in the hearts of its subjects rather than in visible structures. That the promised Deliver would be God incarnate? Perhaps a bit more hidden — still, it’s there in the prophets. But that He would live in His people and through His people? And that His people would include Jew and Gentile? Nope, didn’t see that one coming.
The church, born at Pentecost, was something totally new. A mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to, and through, His saints. Jaw-dropping. Rich and glorious pale to fully express the nature of this mystery. To the Ephesians, Paul declares that the church makes known “the manifold wisdom of God . . . to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10). Really? The multi-faceted, broad and full intelligence of the Omniscient Creator? That’s what the church provides insight to for the heavenly beings? Oh, the glory of the mystery of His body, that is the church.
But how easy it is to become complacently familiar with the church. I can complain about her. Feel overworked by her. Rationalize away why I should be gathered to her. But I should be gripped by her. Blessed to be part of her. Privileged to serve her, as I get to be part of the mystery hidden for ages and generations, a mystery which makes known the riches of God’s glory. Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
No shade this morning. The glory of this multifaceted diamond making known God’s wisdom is on full display as I chew on these verses. Awe has returned. Wonder is at work.
Not that I would put on rose-colored glasses when it comes to some of the realities of Christ’s Bride in her “work-in-progress” state. But in living with the realities, might I also never cease to wonder at the eventualities for His Bride. Christ having loved her, giving Himself up for her. Committed to sanctifying her. That He might present her “to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
A glorious mystery! A beautiful mystery! O, to be part of the mystery!
All by His grace. Only for His glory.