Journal Col 2 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we present everyone mature in Christ.
For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea (and for all who have not seen me face to face), that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ…” Col 1:28 through Col 2:2a
Observation: What is so mysterious about Christ? From what I have learned over the years, am I just scratching the surface of what God wants me to search Him for? Are there even more riches of understanding and knowledge to be obtained?
Analysis: Is it more important to preach the Gospel or to make disciples?
Preaching the Gospel is something we are supposed to do–with our mouth and voice, but also with our visible and invisible lives.
- The invisible part is progressing to maturity, reaching the riches of understanding and knowledge of Christ’s mystery. It is the stuff that is going on inside our hearts and minds, what we strive for, what we call on the Holy Spirit to illuminate in us so we can lay aside every chain of sin that binds us.
- The visible part is how our lives are conducted; that is, what is seen. Do I straddle the line between righteousness in Christ and the unrighteousness of the World? Is my heart being knit with other believers (like in my local church)? Do I understand and exhibit what the Gospel is about in my family, with my spouse, with my children? Do I counsel with worldly wisdom or with godly wisdom? Do I even know the difference?
Paul struggled with that. Took him 17 years to get the Gospel straight in his mind and heart to be able to present it to others. I am still working on it for the past 50 years—and I still don’t think I have it all.
Just the same, I am along the road searching and I think all the better for it.
What is mysterious about the Christ? Why would a perfectly good, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient God, happy in Himself, even think about making a creation that He would give Himself up as a sacrifice to redeem them from an obvious verdict of destruction by His Own Hand?
That, folks, is the mystery—to be searched for but will never be found in its entirety. On a personal level, the question is not about why Jesus gave himself up for the World, but why would he give himself up for me?
Hymns were written to teach doctrine in a catchy, memorizing way. See below for a modern hymn:
… Lord, what moved Your heart to love lowly man
Before any star could herald Your praise?
And why did You come, abasing Yourself,
Veiled in a robe of frail human clay?
Why would You the pure give Your life fore the vile,
The innocent seeking the guilty to be reconciled?
… I can’t comprehend this fathomless love.
I’m gripped and amazed at what You have done.
Why would the adored become the despised
To bear all the furious wrath that was mine?
How awesome this mystery
Of Your fathomless love for me.
… Why would You adopt and take as Your own
Those who had crushed Your one precious Son?
Why mercy and grace towards Your enemies?
Your name they have cursed and Your throne they have shunned.
Oh how could You choose to show kindness to these?
The ones who would mock You and hate You,
The ones just like me? (Steve and Vicki Cook)
Prayer: Lord, preach or teach? Preach and teach? I have always been bothered by this except recently. Once I figured out that conversion is all you and the Gospel is objective, then preaching the Gospel got so much easier—I got that salesmanship mindset out and am learning that the Gospel to the populous is counter to their lives and really so very harsh.
Making disciples is harder. People are still laying down their lives with difficulty. It is hard for folks like me to say, “Teach me.”
And yet, that is what you have to deal with. It is all by your Spirit, O God. Make your patience in me and keep me lowly.