“…the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 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.” Col. 1:26-27.
Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Especially one that has been kept hidden for ages and generations and now is finally being disclosed? This word picture from Paul is Indiana Jones-like imagery. Something wonderful and powerful has been hidden away for a long, long time and is now finally unleashed. By the end of this remarkable introduction to his Colossians letter, Paul has us all leaning in, desperate to know what it is.
Imago Dei – Created in God’s Image
I believe when God created man (and woman) in His own image, this mystery was more apparent to the angels looking on than to the created man. Being created in God’s image, whatever else that means, surely includes being created with the capacity to be indwelled by God’s own Spirit. Man was created with a void in the shape of God’s spirit; a void that would not be filled on a large scale until a day we know as Pentecost.
Everything changed at Pentecost. The answer to the mystery of what that void was all about was then revealed. For the first time, the Spirit of God completed what was God’s plan from the beginning, to indwell His creation. While we see appearances of His Spirit earlier in His story, temporarily filling individuals for limited purposes. But Pentecost was different. It was a permanent filling of every believer. God, the Spirit…Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The Hope of Glory is the Hope for Unity
Doesn’t this reality change how we relate to each other in the church? We ponder the mess of broken relationships that plague the church, and we shake our fists at God desperately looking for a way to “fix” the brokenness. But hasn’t He already given us the fix? If the Spirit of God Himself really does live in every believer, then isn’t that the key to experiencing unity among us? Paul’s instruction that we are to “…keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” isn’t just about acting nice. It is about learning to find Christ in one another. And, it is about making choices in my life that will make it easier for my brothers and sisters to find Christ in me. This is our hope for unity.
The Practical Questions this Raises
So there is no more mystery. We have our answer, our hope for unity. Next come the very practical questions: How do we make that work? What are some ways we can help each other find Christ in one another? Are there “systems” we can set up to help facilitate that process? Can we structure our community with one another to help us stay focused on the Christ in one another? When we gather for worship, how can we better see Christ in one another? As we gather for prayer, are we experiencing the Spirit’s work in each other? When we minister to “the least of these” are we merely serving, or are we really finding Christ in them? How can we teach this to our children and our teenagers? How can we reinforce it in our adults?
These are the kinds of questions we at Christian Unity Ministries feel called to address. We are determined to help answer them. Begin to answer these questions in your local body of believers, and unity will become an actual experience as opposed to a platitude out of Paul’s writings. Alas, there is no more mystery–we now have the answer. Christ in you… we just have to figure out what to do with it.
© Blake Coffee