Every Tuesday morning, I sit in a circle of other pastors and discuss and debate (and sometimes yell and point) the Bible for our weekly sermon. We call it the Teaching Pool, a fancier name than “study circle.” Still, for the last four years or more, this same group of 10 or so has taught chapter by chapter through the Bible, crafting our sermons together and challenging each other.
So this week, I was the one challenged. We’re teaching through Colossians and I had studied in advance for our meeting, ready to point out the tremendous insights I had already gleaned from the text. I was discussing one of these finer points, when my friend pointed out something in the Greek text which changed everything: “That you is actually plural.”
That simple five word statement changed quite a bit about what I was espousing on. My basic point: That Jesus was the fullness of God (the deity in Col. 2) and we are the fullness of Christ. I was going on and on about the value of each of us to be the fullness of Christ on earth, which is certainly true to a point. But then he said that statement. “That you is actually plural.” I sat down and shut up.
Pretty soon, the theological beach ball was being tossed around by others and I didn’t want to play. What did that mean? If the you is plural, that changes a lot. I grew up with every Steven Curtis Chapman CD on repeat for a few years. “Treasure of You” is a familiar song in which he sings to his daughter of her tremendous worth in the sight of God; how she is the said “treasure.” And of course there is beautiful truth in this – that we are the pearl of great price. That each and every one of us can be redeemed, loved, adored . . . treasured.
“That you is actually plural.”
That phrase doesn’t shatter my “Treasure of You” theology but it sure puts a different spin on it. At the very least, it adds a lot more depth. msn games free online. I, alone, am not the fulness of Christ. And God isn’t just coming back for me. Now, we can split theological hairs on this one, but hang with me. We, together, are the fullness of Christ. We, together, are the bride of Christ. With that one statement, the slow realization that it takes all of us together to be who we are meant to be crept in.
My friend Andrew said it best: “It takes all of us united together living now and all who came before us in ages past and in ages to come to equal the fulness exhibited by Jesus Christ on earth.” Now that can sound depressing almost in its scope, but I think the opposite is true. There is hope for us to be everything the Bible says that we are (and that we never seem to be able to attain), and that hope is found in each other. I need you. And you need me. And we need others. When I am united with you in love, when we are in One spirit in what we say and do, when we are connected in common mission–that’s when the body of Christ comes alive and we are the treasure, we are the Bride, we are truly the hope of the world.
There’s a chasm known as individualism in our Western Christian circles. It’s the “every head bowed and every eye closed” mentality as God and I try to do this spiritual walk the best that I can. You may help teach me some things and you might listen if I ask you to, but overall it’s all about my own personal walk with God. And letting you in on it is a luxury, a privilege–not a right. But my value is not found in my own self, my own abilities or gifts, my own righteousness. I am ugly enough apart from God and even with God, I’m not that great without you.
Somehow we become beautiful when we open our lives to each other, sharing life, giving life.
“That you is actually plural.”
And that’s actually great news–that, as Derek Webb once sang, “For the sake of the world, I thank the Lord that the truth’s not dependent on me.”
Matt Conner is a former pastor and church planter turned writer and editor. He’s the founder of Analogue Media and lives in Indianapolis.
You, too, can have a corporate relationship with Jesus Christ! 🙂
This has been a lesson I need to learn again and again. Studying Colossians 3 has a completely different feel if we are looking at it as a community effort, and recognize that God grows us together as a community and is glorified as we work together as the Body of Christ. And, understanding that we are dependent on Christians in other times and places and cultures is an amazingly freeing thing.
One of the things I like best about hanging out in the Rabbit Room is how willing you (plural) all are to be transparent and vulnerable. Whether in your writings or your music, I leave inspired to look at life differently and risk that transparency myself. Thank you!
“My friend Andrew said it best: “It takes all of us united together living now and all who came before us in ages past and in ages to come to equal the fulness exhibited by Jesus Christ on earth.” Now that can sound depressing almost in its scope, but I think the opposite is true. ”
I think the opposite is also true because it helps us to understand that much more the shear “amazingness” or supremacy of Christ.
I read a book once that asked “Why do you love Christ? Is it because he makes much of you or because he allows you to make much of him?”
This realization helps me to think that much more highly of Christ. It elevates him in my finite mind to the next rung of the ladder. O, that the ladder would have no top. That is God’s infinite glory. And until I get to heaven I will never see it clearly. And even then…
Treasure of You is now firmly stuck in my head.
A few years ago, I was introduced to interdependence. Growing up we are taught to be independent, stand on our own two feet. Actually, maturity comes when we learn to become interdependent. I lean on you and you lean on me. When I am weak, you are strong. When you are weak, I will be strong for you. It also circles back into Paul’s image of the body and each part having it’s own critical role to play. If one part ceases to perform its function, the whole body suffers. Transtioning from independence to interdependence has taken a lot of hard work for me – and I am not nearly there yet. So goes the struggle.
A great book on this topic is “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The baseline premise of the book is we are connected — whether we like it or not. His exploration of the implications of this topic are ones that convict me to this day. “That you is actually plural.” indeed! In fact, I’d like to see a Southern translation of the Scriptures where that “you’ was just translated y’all so my simple mind could grasp it. 🙂 Thanks for the post!!
If you have a Rabbit Room account, log in here to comment.