Over the past month we have been working our way through Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Paul chooses his language very specifically in this letter. He uses the words ‘fill‘ and ‘fullness‘ two or three times within the first chapter alone. Full is a concept I feel quite comfortable with at the moment. Having had numerous Christmas chocolates, Christmas cake, a busy schedule… not to mention the constant persistence of a mobile phone alerting me to everything and anything, it seems our lives get so full of stuff that we loose sight of what we really lack… time in the presence of God.
What does the overload of our lives result in? An emptiness that the world encourages us to fill with stuff. This emptiness lays waste to the joy we have in Jesus.
Paul says in Col 1:11 (b) … May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. (NLT)
Joy is something we pray for regularly in our gathered times. That we may experience joy. A releasing of hearts in times of worship. Of joyous dancing, celebration, hands in the air… expressing what we really feel about Jesus.
What do we really feel about Jesus? Paul makes it plain what the good news really is… ‘For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.’ (Col 1:19-20 NLT) That means you and me. We were separate from God but now in Jesus, we are reconciled to God. That’s a homecoming party if you ask me…one that we take for granted daily. No longer separate from God but living in union with him.
Paul also highlights that his joy is not based in happy times but in the severest of trials…’I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking…’ (Col 1:24 NIV) Paul is not saying Jesus’ suffering wasn’t good enough, he is saying that in him (in us too), when he suffers Jesus continues to suffer also. Many of us face trials and our response is critical to our filling up of joy. Joy is present in our pain as Watchman Nee says (Read What shall this man do?). But in recognising Jesus suffers with us and feels our hurt we find a deep joy…
For Paul goes on to say… ‘For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily [human] form, and you have been given fullness in Christ…’ (Col 2:9-10 NIV) Jesus, as a human, felt our pain and trials also, and he can relate to what we go through. But, he has also given us HIS FULLNESS in order that we may triumph in life and find deep joy filling us up.
As we go forward let us allow joy to grow in our hearts because we are reconciled to God. This is hosting the presence too… and it comes from time in God’s presence.