He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
As Tory and I celebrate the four-year anniversary of our move to Reigate, this verse is a good summary of the calling we carry for the years ahead.
In this verse, we can see that Paul has one mission, made up of two parts – to present Christ to people and to present people to Christ.
Either way, it’s all about King Jesus – or as Paul calls him, the Christ, or Messiah. He is the focus of both his message and his mission. It’s all about him.
“He is the one we proclaim,” he asserts, nothing else.
The more I read Paul, the more I seek to understand his context, his faith, and his mission, the more I admire his perseverance, his grace, his passion, and his willingness to give himself away for it all. And in this verse, it is his focus than stands out.
Paul has no passion for what we might call a therapeutic gospel. He has not travelled the world and risked his life for a social justice gospel. He has certainly not given up his status and heritage for a prosperity gospel. He is not an ambassador of a forgiveness only gospel. And he has not dedicated his life to a mere what-happens-when-you-die gospel.
For Paul there is always, and only, a Messianic gospel, a King Jesus gospel, a discipleship gospel. Nothing more, or less. The Messiah is all he lives for. He is his servant and slave. His old life has gone. His new life is Christ. He lives for him alone.
‘For me to live is Christ’, he writes.
Given this, a passion that was shaped and matured over years, it makes sense that all he wants to do is to present this Messiah to people, as Lord, as King, so that he might be able to present people back to the Messiah, fully mature in him.
This is his main thing. It’s all about Christ.
THE NEW SCORECARD – FULLY MATURE
Success in life can mean many things. We each have different ideas of what really matters, and our spending and our effort correspond to what we really believe. If we feel success lies in relationships, we will invest in these and prioritise them. If it’s financial security, we will work hard to achieve it. If success lies in our status relative to others, it will show in our decisions. If success means avoiding pain, our lives will tell the story.
It is the same in church life. Our inner scorecard always determines what we spend our money on, what we celebrate, and what we do. It shapes where we put our energy and what we commit to. Each church carries a slightly different version of success. For some it’s numbers, others it’s cash, for others it’s impact or status. For some success is peaceful relationships. For others it’s spiritual gifts. For other’s it’s conversions. For some, success is being well thought of in the local community.
In November last year, I took some time to review my own ministry and mission, basing my reflections on what is called the ordinal – the words used at my ordination that set out the role of a priest in the Church of England. It was an important time of retreat and reflection for me, which, at the end of a harder than average year, helped me rediscover the centre of my calling.
If I had to encapsulate this all, in one verse, I would now choose Colossians 1:28, “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”
As I look forward to the ministry that lies ahead, I want this to be the scorecard against which to measure success.
MATURE IN CHRIST
Think with me, for a moment, about what it might mean to call yourself, or anyone else, fully mature in Christ. What characteristics would you expect to see in people as they grew into full maturity in him? And how might we go about creating an environment that naturally produced this outcome in ourselves and others?
These are our most important questions.
Along with other leaders in the church, I have spent time over the last few years, seeking to clarify our why, our what and our how. Why we do things, what we do, and how we will go about it all. We have come up with the following:
- Our vision is to see God changing lives, families, and churches again and again.
- Our mission is to make whole life disciples of all ages, to create and support communities of people who worship God with their whole lives, and to model and reproduce this as widely as possible.
- Our strategy is to draw people into intentional apprenticeship to Jesus through:
- reaching out to a world in need,
- drawing people into a new identity in Christ,
- developing a culture of discipleship,
- loving one another as family and
- giving ourselves away for the sake of others.
Revisiting these again, I hope you can see how they all really boil down to the same core idea found in Colossians 1:28 – to present King Jesus to as many people as possible so that we can present as many people as possible to King Jesus – fully mature in him.