In this letter to the Christians in Colosse (in Asia Minor), written around 60 A.D. while under a long house arrest in Rome, Paul reminded the Colossians of the full sufficiency of Jesus. Jesus fully represents both God and humanity to us. Jesus shows us the true measure of who God is and what human nature is. In Jesus, God has come to us fully and perfectly to restore us to himself, to ourselves, to each other, and to being human.
What God accomplishes for us in Jesus, then, goes far beyond the myriad self-centered, self-help programs in our culture that appeal to our need to live life more truly and fully. Indeed, what God does for us goes far beyond the imagination of many of us who intentionally follow Jesus. Too often we resist and restrict how God longs to change us and our world. Or, like our society at large, we warp toward a self-centered, self-help perspective which infects our churches far too much, as can be seen in, among other places, many televangelists and Christian bookstores.
What God accomplishes for us in Jesus goes so far beyond. God rescues us from the power of darkness and transfers us to the kingdom of light – the kingdom of his dear Son. This constitutes a life-change, a world-change, of almost unimaginable scope. From darkness to light, from bondage to redemption, from condemnation to forgiveness: what God does for us in Jesus transforms us and our world.
Yet this is but the beginning. As graduation from school is but the beginning, and the wedding is but the beginning, so transfer from the dominion of darkness to the kingdom of light is but the beginning of new existence. It is the beginning of living in new, specific, concrete ways.
In this opening passage, Paul sketched the broad outline for living into and from this new existence. The basic aim in the kingdom of light is to live a life worthy of Jesus. How do we live such a life? As Paul urged in this text, we do so through (1) bearing fruit in all manner of good works; (2) growing widely and deeply in knowledge of God; (3) strengthening in spiritual power so we can shine with endurance and patience in a troubled and troubling world; and (4) giving thanks to God continually for innumerable riches of faith, hope, and love, for this world and the next.
This then is the day, in God’s grace and power, to get on with living in the kingdom of light, of living a life worthy of Jesus!