The Fullness Of Christ
By Phil Steinbach
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
- Colossians 2:9-10 (NIV)
Every time I read this passage, I trip over it. It makes me stop and ponder. I have enough trouble grasping the idea of Jesus being fully human and fully divine. I grapple with the concept of God's holiness taking up residence in human flesh. It is an awesome and mysterious thing. So when the Apostle Paul talks about how the people of faith have been given the fullness of Christ, who is the head over every power and authority, I have to pause and reflect upon that for a bit.
Paul uses the code word "fullness" to talk about the movement of God's power and authority. God is the source of all "fullness." God reveals the "fullness" of God's Self in Jesus Christ. In turn, Jesus Christ confers his "fullness" upon the congregation at Colossi. It does not take an advanced theological degree to connect the dots. God has embedded within the life of the Church the revealed "fullness" of God's power and authority in Jesus Christ. The absoluteness of the claim is striking.
Critics will say that the Church has become irrelevant. The culture has told us that we are powerless, old-fashioned and backward. The claim has been made that our ethics, our morality, and our message come from another time. The mainstream has told us that we are no longer mainstream.
However, the world continues in the old rebellion against God that began in Genesis. We believe we can work out our own salvation according to our own strength, wisdom and cleverness. Science and technology have displaced the mere superstition of the Christian faith. If we apply ourselves, we can achieve our own utopia without God's help. The "fullness" of God is not needed. Given the current status of the world, I can't help but think it's not working out so well. Clearly, we don't have what it takes to save ourselves from destruction. Something else is needed. Something more is needed.
The "fullness" of God has been revealed in Jesus Christ. That same "fullness," the power and authority of God's Self revealed in Jesus Christ, has been invested in the Church. We have been given the "fullness" of Christ to speak prophetically and to act redemptively in the name of and for the sake of Jesus Christ. We have been commissioned by the "fullness" of Christ to reach out to the world around us to share the good news of the gospel. We have been charged by the "fullness" of Christ with the responsibility to love our neighbors as Christ has loved us. We have been challenged by the "fullness" of Christ to become everything God had created us to be.
Phil Steinbach is an area Methodist Church pastor.