Sometimes when things look particularly difficult, it’s good to get a reminder from the outside about the true state of affairs in our wonderful life.
And that’s what I received this morning. This verse of good news came like a surprising bank statement, and I can’t help smiling:
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.” (Colossians 1:19)
If something makes God pleased we should probably take notice! The verb reminds you of the Genesis account of what He had made: “And God saw that it was good.” He took pleasure in what He had done.
And here He takes pleasure in what Jesus has done.And so can I.
So what gives pleasure to God? Is it our righteousness and goodness? Errr, No. His pleasure is found in his Son. God is pleased with us because of his Son.
And our entire approach to life is rooted to this one spot.
Our whole orientation to life depends upon God’s pleasure with his Son.
He is pleased that “all the fullness” of God resides in Christ’s work of reconciliation (v.20). “Fullness” is a key word in this little letter. It’s used in 1:9, 25; 2:10; and 4:17. There’s a reason for that. It was the familiar term of the Gnostics who infiltrated the Lycus Valley where the city of Colossians lay. “Fullness” was their word for heaven.
So here is Paul’s comeback: Jesus Christ is the true fullness. He is not heaven itself; he is more than that. He is fullness for the believer’s life. Jesus Christ is substance, not shadow; fullness, not foretaste.
Jesus is the fullness of God’s grace-rescue plan.
Another key word in Colossians is the world “all.”
It means ALL.
Add it to “fullness,” and you have a powerfully comprehensive statement about Jesus. And if I and you are to live as God intends, then it is our word too. It is a claim on the quality of life God gives.
The third key word here is “dwell.” It simply means to reside permanently in a place. Become a Permanent Resident. Don’t flit about town to town. Put down your roots in this spot. Make it your home!
“All the fullness” of God’s work settles in Christ permanently. All of God’s grace-rescue dwells in him. You can see this in verses such as Acts 5:31: “God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”
And look at Acts 17:31: “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
And all this is foundational to way I live as a Believer.
It’s my inheritance, my CV.
Now things go up and down, that’s for sure. I “succeed” and I “fail” and circumstances rise and fall, but my assurance is always based not upon what I can accomplish but upon what He has already done.
And He said, “It is finished.”
Our joy depends on the work of Christ. And here it is, like a surprising bank statement reminding us that all is well. We can draw upon this generous reminder.
And we can apply it to the way that we live.
Regardless of whatever may happen to us, God has provided all we need. He is the God of ”More than Enough.” Circumstances challenge us. Life pulls the carpet from under our feet. Sometimes things just happen.
She may say “Darling, I wish this moment could go on forever.” But it doesn’t. Life never remains the same.
And we get a share of pain with the pleasure. Just think of all that your children bring into your lives! (sorry guys, when you read this, but…)
But this verse declares something above and beyond the ebb and flow of circumstance: that our real selves are shoved back and forth by the waves. We are anchored in Christ, and the person and work of Christ is preeminent in every aspect of our lives.
Here’s Eugene Peterson’s masterly paraphrase:
“He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.”
What a picture! “All the broken and dislocated pieces” reassembled forever.
“All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but He made something beautiful out of my life.”