Summary: Paul, Pt. 23
IN CHRIST ALONE (COLOSSIANS 2:1-10)
A scientific convention was held at a lakeside resort. After the first day’s proceedings, a mathematician, a physicist, an astronomer and a molecular biologist hired a boatman to row them around on the lake. As they sat in the boat, they discussed string theory, bubble universes, the Gaea Hypothesis and other abstruse topics.
The biologist noticed the boatman looking at them from the corner of his eyes. He asked him, “What do you think of these ideas?” The boatman replied, “I didn’t understand any of it.” The astronomer asked him how far he had studied. He told them he couldn’t even read. “I hate to say it,” said the physicist, “but you seem to have wasted a good part of your life.” The boatman remained silent.
By now they were out in the middle of the lake, far from shore. A sudden storm whipped up. The waves started churning and heaving. All of a sudden, the boat flipped over. The boatman started swimming for shore. The scientists cried out, “Help! We can’t swim!” The boatman called back, “I hate to say it, but you seem to have wasted your WHOLE lives.”
Some people think Christianity is for the unintelligent, uneducated and unsophisticated, but Christians are, by far, the most knowledgeable religious group, with plenty of doctors, scientist and educators as adherents.
In Colossians 1 (Col 1:15-19), Paul succinctly addresses who Jesus is. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth (Col 1:16-17), the Lord of the living and the dead (Col 1:18), and the Mediator between God and man (Col 1:19-20). In chapter two, he presents what we have in Him because of who He is. There are no greater riches than the riches of His wisdom and knowledge. There is no stronger ground than to be rooted and built up in Him. And there is no greater rule above every power and authority in heaven.
No Fortune is Smarter
1 I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col 2:1-3)
This is a Jewish story I love sharing: One night, a poor Jewish man named Isaac from Krakel, Poland, in a vivid dream, saw a buried treasure hidden under a particular bridge in the distant city of Prague. For the next two weeks, he dreamed of the particular city, the same bridge, and the buried treasure. The man was determined to walk all the way to Prague to see for himself. Upon reaching the city for his first time, he recognized it from his dream, found the bridge and went underneath to look for the treasure. And suddenly he was grabbed at the back of his neck by a soldier who dragged him away to prison for interrogation.
The soldier set him on a chair and said, “All right, you Jew, what were you doing prowling around underneath the bridge. Not knowing what else to say, Isaac blurted out the truth. “I had a dream that there was buried treasure underneath the bridge, and I was looking for it.” Immediately the soldier burst into mocking laughter, and said, “You stupid Jew, don’t you know you can’t believe what you see in your dreams. Why, for the last two weeks I myself have had a dream every night that far away in the city of Krakel in the house of some Jew by the name of Isaac son of Yaakob is a treasure buried under the stove in his kitchen. But wouldn’t it be the most idiotic thing in the world if I would go all the way to Krakel to look for some Jew that doesn’t exist, or there may be a hundred Isaac son of Yaakob. I could waste a lifetime looking for a treasure that isn’t even there. With a glorious laughter, the soldier then opened the door, gave him a good kick and let him go. Well, Isaac son of Yaakob naturally walked back to Krakel to his house where he moved his stove in his own kitchen, found the treasure buried there and lived to a ripe old age as a rich man.
Paul admonished believers to look to the Lord instead of the world for their intellectual development. In verse 1, Paul characterizes his struggles for the church at Colosse and Laodicea as “agony” (agon = struggling), specifically “how much” (helikos) or “great” the agony is, the latter used one other verse in the Bible for the tongue in its “great” boast sets a “great” forest on fire (James 3:5); yet this is the only time “great agony” is used in the Bible. Paul agonized for the church united in love to comprehend the all the riches (ploutos) and the treasures (thesaurus, storehouse) of God in Christ that are available to them. This fortune does not refer to the possessions of the world, but is bound to the person of Christ. The believer must be informed and not ignorant of the immense resources and intellectual property they have at their disposal. In Christ the “riches” (ploutos) to our account include the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience (Rom 2:4), the riches of his glory (Rom 9:23, Eph 3:16), the riches of his grace (Eph 2:7), the riches of his glorious inheritance (Eph 1:18), unsearchable riches (Eph 3:8) and the glorious riches of mystery (Col 1:27). How precious, privileged and priceless are the other riches of Christ to us, but it these virtues are incomplete without wisdom and knowledge from above.