In Colossians 1:15-22, Paul gives us something a bit like John 1:1-18. His language and focus is a bit different from John’s, and we think he may be quoting an existing hymn to Christ the creator; but the sweep and flow of his thinking is similar.
First he celebrates the cosmic wonder of Jesus, through whom all things were created and in whom all things hold together. This same Jesus has now conquered death as the firstborn to new life, and in him by the cross God has reconciled all things in heaven and earth. This reconciliation is cosmic and universal in scope, but comes down to ‘you who once were estranged’ – it’s also personal and individual.
This wonder of the infinite becoming personal, of God watching at the same moment over the formation of stars and the transformation of a single human life, is overwhelming if we allow ourselves to step back and contemplate it. Our salvation is never separate from the reconciliation of the whole of creation to God. But that doesn’t mean that we’re absorbed into a uniform spiritual soup. God’s work with us is as individuals, and it doesn’t stop at salvation.
God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Col. 1:27-28)
Christ in you. This Christ, who Paul has just been praising as the author of creation and ground of being, dwells in us. It’s our work to allow God to transform us in him, to become ‘mature’ as his life shines through us to transform the world around us. Paul more usually writes of us as being in Christ; here he turns it round to write of Christ in us. Perhaps that makes the focus more individual, more personal. What does the difference of phrase mean to you?
The source of all life dwells in you and longs to work through you. How does that make you feel? How will you respond?