Six years ago I pressed into Colossians 2 with a deep yearning to know more about the “circumcision of the heart” Paul speaks of in this chapter. I remember studying this at a time when I was searching the Scriptures and God’s heart seeking a greater understanding of His deep grace and the workings of that grace to bring us to completion in Christ.
The journey through Colossians 2 led me to a decision. On February 6, 2005 I put on my t-shirt and shorts in the small dressing room behind the platform at Chisholm Trail Baptist Church and walked out into the baptistry for the second time in my life to receive water baptism. That day I asked the Lord to cut the flesh nature away from my heart so that only He remained.
This past weekend, I experienced this chapter of Scripture in a brand new way. I experienced a baptism that served as both circumcision and deliverance and what I feel signifies completion of what I began searching out in those cold winter days more than a half decade ago.
My heart leans again toward this chapter, I hope it is all right if I share what I discover anew with you.
Colossians 2:1-3 (ASV)
“For I would have you know how greatly I strive for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may know the mystery of God, even Christ, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden.”
Let’s start with Paul’s great concern for the Church at Colosse. The Greek word translated in verse 1 as “strive” is ἀγών (Strong’s Greek #73) which is transliterated, agōn. In the Complete Word Study Dictionary this definition is shared:
ἀγών [See Stg:
In the American Standard Version, the word appears as an English verb, but in the Greek the word is a noun: A contest or contention. This word implies a striving toward a specific end, victory or mastery.
Paul had never met the Christians at the Church in Colosse, but in his heart he fought for them. He contended for them spiritually. Paul’s zeal for believers commended them to a greater understanding of the mysteries of God – even Christ. Can you hear his heart speaking to them?
He said he wanted them to know how he contended for them and the believers at Laodicea, as many who had not seen his face. Paul had so great a burden for these, and he had never met them. He did not know them personally, but he was connected to them by God’s heart.
Paul’s desire was to encourage and comfort the believers at Colosse and Laodicea. That there would be unity in their body and that as they grew close in heart to one another – they would also grow close in heart to God. Who has God laid on your heart to contend for their faith and understanding of the mysteries of God?
He speaks of an abundance of riches, a wealth, of understanding. A full assurance – a full measure-of understanding which brings revelation of the mystery of God-and that mystery is wholly found in Christ. I do not know about you, but early in my walk with God I had a hard time understanding how Christ could be both God and man. How did divinity within humanity make his experience tangible?
As a young teen, I pictured Jesus as a “super hero” type of God. You know… If he fell down it did not hurt, or if he was wounded he didn’t really feel pain. The hurtful things had to bounce off of Him. After all He did not stop being God just because He became a man. His flesh a costume, like that of Clark Kent in the Superman story. But, that God thing He had going that really meant He just did what He had to do to save us – but somehow my picture remained void of experience.
Fast forward to spring 2004. Mel Gibson’s graphic depiction of the Passion of the Christ demonstrated a side of Jesus that I struggled to identify. Suffered. Anguished. Died.
His existence and humanity warred with His divinity in knowing He must suffer. He must anguish. He must die. Redemption could not satisfy the justice of God without a perfect sacrifice. Sacrifice involved pain, suffering, anguish and death – giving up the precious in place of the vile.
He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. ~Luke 22:44 (NLT)
He agonized. He prayed. He suffered there in prayer. He surrendered.
His divinity knew necessity. His humanity knew pain. His beloved knew redemption.
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” ~Matthew 26:39 (NLT)
When the Passion of the Christ came to theaters seven years ago, I collected money and names of people in our church to attend the first evening show on opening weekend. Still, I went early on opening day, purchased a ticket and sat through the movie alone weeping profusely at the agony of my Christ. My heart writhed as I witnessed the dramatic recreation of His suffering and my heart finally knew that Jesus boasted no super power – He laid aside His power, miracles and zeal in favor of the cross so that I could be free.
For me, that day watching the suffering of Christ, “cut me to the heart.” It exposed the foolishness of my idol, Jesus, and opened my heart to the reality of my Savior and Lord, and all He did to make me His own. He came for me. What love? What Grace? What Sacrifice? For me?
Think of the wealth of this understanding. The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Walvoord & Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary) gives us insight into the depths of this passage. The commentators call Paul’s stiving a “Labor of Love.”
2:2-3. Paul’s stated purpose was that they might be encouraged in heart and united in love. Confidence and strength of conviction as well as cohesive unity yield a full understanding of the truth. There is no full knowledge apart from moral commitment. Complete understanding (syneseōs, “insight”) results from complete yielding. And this understanding is Christocentric. This insight into God’s ways enables believers to know (epignōsin) Christ fully. Christ, as the true mystery of God, reveals God to man (cf. John 1:18; Heb. 1:2-3). For in Him are hidden (cf. Col. 1:26) all the treasures of wisdom (sophia, cf. 1:9) and knowledge. Knowledge is the apprehension of truth; wisdom is its application to life. Knowledge is prudent judgment and wisdom is prudent action. Both are found in Christ (cf. Rom. 11:33; 1 Cor. 12:8) whose wisdom is foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1:21-25), but who is the power of God by which a believer receives “righteousness, holiness, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).
This statement from the commentary gives me pause, “Knowledge is the apprehension of truth; wisdom is its application to life. Knowledge is prudent judgment and wisdom is prudent action. Both are found in Christ…“
Beth Moore has been known to say, “Wisdom is knowledge applied.” AMEN.
So if Jesus suffered so greatly on my behalf – what else about my image of God had to be examined?
God the Father represented all authority I had ever known. Demanding obedience and giving little attention to the positive only observing the negative when my actions or attitude required correction. Grace eluded me, and my picture of God the Father for my first 34 years of life resembled an angry Judge/Father who boasted too many responsibilities to be really concerned or available to me, but waited for me to screw up so He could prove my need of Him.
One night, I sat in a “Hearing God” class at Church. Bob Hamp walked casually back and forth as He shared Scripture’s testimony of God’s deep desire to communicate intimately with me.
He paused in his paces and quieted the room. We bowed our heads and closed our eyes. Then he asked the question, “God, is there a lie that I have believed about you?”
My heart sped up as I awaited the verdict that loomed in my heart. But, God didn’t issue a verdict. Instead, He issued a pardon.
You think I’ve been sitting up here waiting for you to screw up so I can say, “Gotcha!”
I picked up my pen and wrote down the words that rolled through my mind like a kiosk in Time Square. Bob then asked the next question, “If that is a lie, then what is the truth to replace it? “
Laughter began to bubble up in my heart as I realized the answer to this second, more important question. I’ve got you, stop trying so hard.
And just like that my judgment against both myself and God fell away to the truth of His Spirit at work in my heart. Repentance.
These last few years I have allowed that word the opportunity to marinate in my soul. As I rehearsed it again and again, I also refuted the accusations of my accuser and the evidence of my past that threatened to steal my righteousness in Christ.
God has spoken new truths to me since those early days when I learned to recognize His voice and embrace His truth. Little by little the natural way I think and live has ebbed away while new life has sprung up in unexpected places. Every once in a while I will ask the Lord, “Would you tell me a secret thing?”
The answer remains the same, Watch and see. And when you see you’ll know.
And I always know. When He shows me the revelation, I always know that it is God revealing to me “a secret thing.” He even tells me He loves that I know He will show me if I ask Him.
Over time I have grown to discover the intimacy and beauty of my Father God and His precious Son, Jesus. Their intimate connection with my heart opens me to new arenas of blessing, new areas of ministry, and new revelations of His love. Complete. A full measure of understanding? Perhaps, but the well is deeper. I love that I can be satisfied here, but still yearn for and attain more without even trying. He just speaks it and it is so.
His love is extravagant and there is so much more of Him for us to know. Christ is our Hidden Treasure. Will you come along and see what we can discover about Him together?