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... in every way

"... in Christ you have been brought to fullness." Colossians 2.10

In addition to insisting that God did everything necessary for our salvation "in Christ", Paul also uses that phrase "in Christ" to describe the new believer's new status. By status, Paul does not simply mean our static position before God. It is more dynamic than that. Our new life "in Christ" informs and transforms everything about our lives: how we think, act and feel. So Paul's use of the term is, at least, two-fold: describing the agency by which God "in Christ" has redeemed the world and effect that accrues to all who will receive God's free gift of forgiveness of sin and renewal of life.

But it goes even further than that... we are not only baptised into Christ, as a personal response to the grace of God, we are welcomed into a family of fellow believers. So there is a participatory sense of being "in Christ" too. Perhaps Paul is so often misunderstood and maligned because his words are interpreted as being harsh and impersonal - imperious even. Would our impression be different if, instead, we were to hear Paul more like a human father who is desperately concerned for his large and scattered and growing family, taking delight in their progress, heart-broken when they go astray and anxious to guide their future course.

As one who was humble enough never to forget his roots (as a persecutor of the church), yet was utterly convinced and convicted by the reality of his encounter with the risen Jesus, does Paul not carry the moral authority to be as direct and effusive as he comes across? As a person he may not have been a "looker" (by his own admission) but he was supremely talented in other ways and his resilience and devotion are surely beyond question? Paul's attitude is probably best summed up in his letter to the church at Philippi (chapter 3, verse 8): "I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ."

What an example of one who has received God's gift of grace, allowed it to transform his life and relationships and then committed everything he is and has to living accordingly, regardless of the cost...



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