This is a magnificent passage! It’s the vision, the mission, the overview, the long view, the big picture… Here Paul is trying, somehow, in human words, to reveal God’s heart and purpose.
I have read and re-read it, and am still trying to get my head around it. As you read it over and over, what do you see? In trying to grasp it, I like to look at key words, key themes, contrasts, even lists. I’m a detail person. Jeff (in contrast) is a big picture guy. God, of course, is both. And so much more!
So what is Paul saying here? Whatever it is, it makes my heart beat faster. Whatever it is, it’s alive. It is bearing fruit and growing (v.6). All over the world. That’s not mechanical or pedantic. It’s alive.
And it’s big. I counted five “all”s, two “every”s, three “always”s, and one “complete.” What is happening? And why?
Well, there’s so much happening! There’s faith in Jesus, and God’s people loving each other. There’s confident hope of something great reserved in Heaven. There’s Good News and truth and grace; fruit being borne and lives being changed. There’s knowledge, wisdom and understanding; pleasing God, producing fruit, and getting to know Him better. There’s strengthening, power, endurance and patience; joy and thankfulness. And an inheritance.
That’s such a great list of amazingly good things! What’s behind all this? Near the end of the passage I see a clue, a “for”… Where does it lead?
“For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (NLT). Or, in the NIV: “… the kingdom of the Son he loves.”
These are two very different places, one ruled by darkness, the other by love. In my mind I imagine a Venn diagram, with two circles. One contains descriptors of the kingdom of darkness; the other has this magnificent list of what it’s like in the kingdom of God’s Son, where love prevails and brings life.
What descriptors would be in the other circle, the one about the kingdom of darkness? Think about that. We can all imagine plenty of adjectives, nouns, and phrases to describe the darkness inside us. Hatred, resentment, disunity, greed… If you need ideas, check out Colossians 3:5-9.
In this Venn diagram, there is no overlap. There is a clear gap. Paul is saying we have been rescued from the one and transferred, lovingly brought to the other. From darkness to love. I can’t think of better news.
Life in this new domain is alive and growing, based on love, bearing fruit, changing lives, full of hope, leading to joy.
Looking ahead to the rest of Colossians, I see a lot more of this contrast, this leaving of darkness for the new life God has for us. It will be fleshed out as we go through Colossians. I can’t wait!