The expression “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27) seems to be the keynote of the entire epistle to the Colossians. It is different from the Ephesian epistle which views us in Christ. Here it is Christ in us, and these are two separate and distinct thoughts. The Ephesian truth is that in the eye of God we are accepted in the Beloved, seen, blessed, quickened, raised up together and seated in the heavenlies in Him. God sees us in His beloved Son. An illustration of this Ephesian truth, which I’ve never forgotten, was given to me a long time ago in Sunday School. Our teacher had brought to class a piece of brilliantly colored glass. She allowed each child to look through that piece of colored glass. As we did all the other members of the class appeared in the same bright blue color. Thus she illustrated to us that God the Father takes the radiant color of His Son, and looks at us through Him. As He does, we take on His moral graces and are “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6). This is the Ephesian truth.
In the Colossian epistle is the converse of this. Instead of being seated in heaven we are walking on the earth. Instead of being blessed in Christ with all the blessings in the heavenlies, we are shining as His testimony on the earth. But we are not doing this merely in a reflective way. It is that the Lord Jesus is dwelling in us by the Holy Spirit. His life is in us; we live by Him. Any moral beauty seen in us on the earth is not ours, but Christ’s. And the fact that we shine in any measure in His radiance on earth is the pledge that a day is coming when we shall be conformed to His image. He is in that way “the hope of glory.”
Let’s never underestimate the changes that have taken place in our lives as a result of the entrance of the light of Christ. The gospel is the great transforming force in this world. It takes us from the horrible pit of sin and puts our feet on the Rock of our salvation. It transfers us from the dunghill and sets us among princes. This is not merely positional; it is actual. No sooner are we converted to God than these mysterious changes begin to take form in our lives. The drunkard is delivered from his drinking. The bigotry of unbelief is exchanged for love for the truth of God. Disregard for the Lord is supplanted by a love for His name. The thief becomes a giver. Levi the tax gatherer becomes Matthew the follower of Christ. Greed and selfishness are supplanted by loving kindness.
These changes in a human life do not happen at once, but the moment we are converted to God we enter His school of divine discipline. Under His hand our life is transformed. That is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
The practical way this is all accomplished is outlined for us in 2 Corinthians 3:18. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” Every ray of the attributes of the Lord that we see shining from a life here below is the testimony that the Lord has begun a work in that life, and that it will continue until the day of Jesus Christ, the day of glory. That is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” These evidences, however feeble they may be, are reminders that there is still a company of people here on this earth called the body of Christ, composed of all believers in His name. And the way we are known is not by our loud claims or wordy professions. It is by the Lord Jesus in some way shining through our lives: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Paul calls this wealth of testimony “the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles” (Col. 1:27). The wide world is where God makes known, through our daily lives, all the riches which will be put on display in Christ in the day of glory to come. What a privilege it is to be a Christian!
By Tom Westwood
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org