Hope of Glory

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27 NIV)

The Apostle Paul is writing to Gentile believers in Colossae from prison in Rome. The prisoner is writing to the free about hope. The chained one is writing about glory. That's what God does.

The mystery of God through the ages was that the Messiah - His Anointed One - would be a suffering servant, and that through Jesus' suffering the price would be paid for our redemption. The mystery of God that cannot be adequately explained until it has been experienced is Christ living in us.

The good news of the Gospel is not Christ above us, ruling the universe, even though He is in heaven at the right hand of the Father, reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not Christ beside us, walking through life with us, even though He does walk with us (or rather we walk with Him) and He will never abandon us. This is the good news Paul identifies: Christ in you, the hope of glory!

When Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, lives in our lives as Holy Spirit, it changes everything. Jesus alive in my heart gives hope, no matter the circumstances. Life may be difficult, but Jesus gets the last word. Believers have faced down plague, prison, persecution, rejection, failure and poverty because Jesus gave them hope. Whatever circumstances I face, Jesus never fails. Things may not turn out the way I hoped, but the Source of hope will one day give victory.

What do we normally hope for? Relief from pain. Healing from illness. Joy in productive work. Love in family and friendly relationships. Remember Paul, writing from prison? He speaks of the hope of glory. In the afflictions of prison and persecution, Paul only desires that Jesus be glorified in his life. His hope is that the glory of the Father be released.

Here's part of the mystery: God is not so much interested in our happiness as He is our holiness. Christ living in our lives means being made something glorious is on the table. God hopes our lives will be so transformed by the Holy Spirit of Jesus living in us that people will look with wonder at what God is doing in us and glorify Him. Jesus Himself told us: In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NIV)

Paul endured affliction. As a matter of fact, Paul says this about his sufferings: Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you... (Colossians 1:24a NIV) Is he crazy? He rejoices in suffering? How completely unAmerican is that? Is Paul a masochist who enjoys pain? No, he simply sees prison through different lenses. His focus is not on his own suffering. His focus is on Christ being glorified.

Jesus can be glorified in the way we hold on to faith when we face our afflictions. Christ living in us can not only help us weather the storms of life, He can use the afflictions themselves, and our response to them, to make a witness to the hopeless that hope is found in Him. Jesus is our living hope. And with Him, nothing is hopeless. The One who walked out of the tomb in victory over death itself can handle any trial or affliction or persecution we face.

And that is good news, indeed.

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