In the center of the Apostle Paul’s paragraph describing Christ to the Colossians, he explains why Jesus is before all things:
For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. Colossians 1:19
Christ is every ounce the Father, and every ounce of the Father is in Christ. Jesus is the physical manifestation of God, every cell filled up with His divine essence, His justice, His goodness and His love.
“I and the Father are one,” He said, and He lived it. Jesus did not think God’s way and behave another. He was not false to the Father in a single word or in action. He did not purpose to do the will of God and fall to follow through.
In Him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. There was no room for one thing else.
In another letter to another church, Paul writes about this concept again in a remarkable prayer for God’s people:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith — that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19, emphasis mine).
I have seen hypocrisy in the mirror often enough — days when I have the mind but not the heart to do as I should.
But I often fail to see these moments for what they are: not the failed strivings of someone who didn’t try hard enough, but a front row seat at the war between good and evil to fill my heart.
To the extent I am filled with Christ — and all the fullness of God that comes with Him — that is the extent to which good wins.
That means our battle is a spiritual one, not a striving one. Paul, in his prayer, hands us the swords with which to fight.
We must believe that fullness is possible, and that it is found in Christ. Instead of “the riches of His glory,” I often settle for the poverty of my ideas. I make a God of my own design, built with half-filled truths and understandings. God is only God if He makes sense to me, which makes me a kind of god, too, and thus at least partially filled with myself.
But true fullness comes through Jesus as He defines Himself in His Word, no matter how it looks or feels. I must study to know Him and know that His story is larger than what seems good and right to me. Christ will only “dwell in my heart through faith” in His work and not mine.
We must pray to strengthen our vessels — our “inner being” — to hold God’s fullness. Paul prays that we could comprehend “the breadth and length and height and depth” of all things so that we can be filled.
My spiritual life must expand beyond the smallness of me and what God can do for me and who I can become — cramming so much self into my self that I am bloated and shapeless that there is no structure or space to hold the vast treasure of Christ.
We must “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” The Greek here might translate loosely into something like “we must learn to fully understand the love of Christ, which beats just knowing Bible stories about it.”
I limit God’s love — and His fullness in me — when I limit His character to bumper stickers and platitudes. I must dig deep to know both His kindness and His justice, His grace and His discipline, His mercy and His hatred of my sin.
I cannot understand His love unless I am convinced there is a reason I need it.
I cannot be filled unless I first know I am empty.
He was faithful to pour Himself out for us. Through the sacrifice of Christ, the fullness of God is now pleased to dwell in us.
What great power and great love that we have not let fill us up.
I will pray He carves out more space in us today.
Read the next post in The Colossians Project.
featured photo by Esben Bøg.
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