I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. (Colossians 2:1-5 NIV)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life…” – Jesus
That’s an important quote from John 14:6. And it’s the answer to a major problem we encounter.
But before we get to it, let me focus on verse one for a second. Paul says he is “struggling” for the Colossians. What does that mean?
Some would say it’s because he’s in prison, or under attack, or something like that. But as a pastor, I don’t think that’s true. While everyone has people they care about, at the risk of being presumptuous, I don’t think anyone other than a pastor really understands the way pastors care for their people. Our word “agony” comes from the same root as the Greek word here translated as “struggle,” and that’s a pretty good picture of what goes on in a pastor’s heart when it comes to his people.
One of the biggest problems we face in our struggles is that, while we have a very good, logical system*, we may not always have the best “fine-sounding arguments” (v. 4). There are non-Christians who, by combining our innate awareness of God with our fallen nature, can make their systems sound mighty good. How can we fight these spinners of quasi-truth?
Well, no surprise, Jesus had the answer and Paul refers to it here—“that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.” Now here’s the thing to notice, and it goes back to Jesus’ statement. A mystery in the Bible isn’t a whodunit. It’s something that can only be understood when it is revealed. And notice, the mystery that answers the fine-sounding arguments, isn’t “the facts about Christ.” It’s Christ. Just like Jesus didn’t say, “I know the way, the truth and the life.” He said I AM the way, the truth and the life. Unlike the fine sounding arguments, we don’t point people to a set of propositions; we point them to a person. (Notice that the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found IN Him.)
As a pastor, my job isn’t to teach you ABOUT Jesus. My job is to introduce you TO Jesus. My sermons aren’t intended to help you know more ABOUT Christ, they’re intended to help you know Christ better.
Now, honestly, we probably all struggle with settling for the lesser good from time to time. It’s much easier to learn more facts about Jesus that it is to know Him more. So how do you do it? What have you learned in your walk with Jesus that keeps you from settling for Jesus trivia instead of Jesus? What traps have you run into? And what advantages have you gained when you refuse to settle for anything less than a real encounter with the real Person?
* We’ll be looking at that system in our first teaching series in the new building, inFocus.