Summary: The work of Christ is not complete until we fill in the blanks of justice not yet done, kindness not yet given, and witness not yet shared. He wants our very cores.
To do anything these day, you have to fill out a form. Have you noticed? To get anywhere with anything you want to do, you have to fill out an application.
Some of you have been job-hunting. So what happens? You go to the personnel office, you pull out your beautifully polished resume, the one printed on marbleized paper with a laser printer, the one which describes your career aims in very high-sounding language, the one which reeks of success ... you pull out your resume and hand it in, and they say, "take a seat and fill out this form." Right?
And it doesn’t matter that all the information asked for on the form is exactly what you wrote on your resume. It doesn’t cut any ice that on your resume you have been able to describe in fulsome detail how you helped XYZ Company achieve its goals by expediting the timely acquisition of vital materials ... which means you were a delivery boy! It doesn’t help, all that glorious language. They just want you to fill in the blanks. They just want you to complete their form.
Let me tell you, it’s even true here at the church. If you come forward to join, we give you a card and ask you to fill in the blanks. If you want to reserve a room, fill in the blanks. If you want to change your address in our records, here, fill in the blanks. If you want to get married, our secretary has several forms with lots of blanks to fill in. Lots of blanks. The only one we somehow didn’t put on that form is the one that would ask, "Why would you even want to get married?" But I guess we reserve that for the counseling sessions!
And if you die ... well, for that one we will fill in the blanks for you!
The apostle Paul speaks of filling in the blanks left by Christ. It’s a peculiar and puzzling passage. It’s something the scholars have played with for a long time. Paul speaks about the all-sufficient Christ, the Christ who is lord of all things. And then he turns right around and speaks of Christ as lacking some things; he speaks of the work of Christ as incomplete. When did you ever think of Christ as incomplete?
Listen with me to these verses from the first chapter of the Colossian letter. Notice first how many times Paul speaks of the all-embracing lordship of Christ. Just listen for the uses of the words "all things" or everything. Colossians 1 :15-23
But now notice how he turns the tables and suggests that we are going to have to fill in the blanks even for Christ.
Colossians 1: 24 ... isn’t that strange language? "I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church." Something is missing. There are blanks to be filled out, even in the work of Christ. And somehow you and I have to fill in those blanks!
Continuing: Colossians 1: 25-26, 29
I want to begin this morning by affirming, with Paul, the all-sufficiency of Christ. The Christian faith is built on the solid foundation of Christ as the one in whom all the fullness of God came to dwell. He is the word made flesh, come to dwell among us, full of grace and truth. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
And Jesus Christ is the one who has done all that is necessary for our redemption. The death He died He died, once for all, to wrest our lives from the grip of evil. The cross is the epicenter of the world’s history, an unrepeatable event. Full and perfect sacrifice. Through Him God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things, by making peace through the blood of His cross.
And more, Jesus Christ is the first fruits of those who sleep. He is risen from the dead, He is alive, He is whole, He is stronger than all human strength and greater than all mortal greatness. He is the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.
The early Christians summed it all up in three stark, simple Words. The earliest Christian statement of faith: Ihsous Xristos Kurios, Jesus Christ Lord. He is the all in all.
And yet, there is something more. There is something yet to be done. There are blanks to be filled in. There is something left to do. The framework is in place. The basic work is done. Christ has done what He came to do. But now for things to happen, we will have to fill in the blanks. We are called to complete the work of Christ by giving of ourselves in and through the church. Look at what it says, "In my flesh completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church".