I have been leading a Bible study on Sunday mornings at our church for the last few months on the book of Colossians. As the teacher, I have enjoyed savoring this book. Every lesson I feel as if I am trying to kiss the last bit of flavor from the text. This has meant that those in my class have had to exercise an enormous amount of patience with me. But God is good and they are gracious and I think we are the better for it.
But the class will be coming to a close in a few weeks and before I jump into the last few lessons I have decided (for a variety of reasons) to do a review of where Paul has taken us so far. And it was as I read these words in chapter one that I was forced once again to smile…
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
There is, within those words, an inexhaustible mine shaft of truth and beauty. Indeed I have read pages upon pages of words discussing those words. But as I sit here reading those words again – in their context – I think I might understand a little why Paul uses a secretary for writing. It frees him up to worship. I realize this is speculation but it is speculation born of a worshiping heart – but I imagine when Paul got to dictating these words he did so on his knees with his hands raised. And while there are tears in his eyes there is a smile on his face.
But maybe that is just me projecting myself onto him.
I think Paul is still smiling. Not at you and me, mind you. But at Jesus. And if you let the deep truths of these words prod your mind to escape the preoccupation of the mundane and stoke the fires of your heart as they should I think you will find yourself smiling back. But not at Paul.