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. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. (Colossians 1:27-29).
Fully mature! Paul’s goal was to present everyone fully mature in Christ by teaching and admonishing them with the truth in the hopes that they would respond and become what he urged them to be.
Of course he had no guarantee that they would respond to his teaching as fully as he hoped. All he could do was to provide the food; whether they ate it or not was up to them. He had two powerful weapons with which he contended – the Word of God and prayer – and he used them both with all the energy which the Lord provided.
The Scriptures present God’s Word as a weapon.
‘Is not my word like fire,’ declares the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?’ (Jer. 23: 29).
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb.4: 12).
By prayer, Paul interacted with the Father through the Holy Spirit, discerning His mind and becoming one in spirit with the Father so that the Father’s will would be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Although he could not make anyone respond, he trusted his weapons to break down opposition and resistance and open up the channels of the heart for the light of God’s truth to penetrate and transform.
What was his goal? Fully mature in Christ! Those two words open up a world of meaning for those who aspire to maturity in Christ. It is the Father’s purpose to restore every believer to the image of His Son.
For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Rom. 8: 29).
God’s goal is that every child of God become an exact replica of His Son. What does He mean by that? Jesus was the perfect and model Son. He was submissive and obedient to His Father, serving Him by doing what the Father wanted. He lived in union with and dependence upon the Father. He refused to do anything the Father did not tell Him to do and He did everything to protect the unity He had with the Father, even to laying down His life to fulfil the Father’s will.
Yet is was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, He will see His offspring, and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand. (Isa. 53: 10).
Surprisingly enough, it seems, maturity is not about learning to be independent, as we train our children to be, but about growing in dependence upon Him as our source. Paul contended with the energy supplied by Christ through the Spirit. The secret is ‘Christ in you’. If we are ever to come anywhere near to maturity in this life, we must learn to become one with Jesus, living in union with Him in our everyday walk, doing His will in His way.
Working for Jesus is not what we are called to do. It is a mistake to think that our job is to be busy doing His work. We are called to live out His life wherever we are, because that is His work. It is Christ in us, being Himself through us that will accomplish His will. Working for Jesus does not mean doing what we think He wants us to do in our way. Working with Jesus means allowing His Spirit to recreate us in His image so that the world can see who He really is.
Paul called it a ‘mystery’? This doesn’t mean that it cannot be understood. It means that this truth was hidden until the moment when Jesus revealed it to His disciples to whom He gave the responsibility and authority to interpret His ‘yoke’. It was their duty to ‘bind’ it on all His followers and to free them from the ‘yoke of bondage’.
As I have explained many times, Jesus’s ‘yoke’ was His way of interpreting the ‘Torah’, God’s teaching in the books of Moses, and the way He lived it in His own life and taught it to His disciples.
It is only by following His way that we can every hope to become ‘fully mature’.
SCRIPTURE TAKEN FROM THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.