"We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." Colossians 1:28-29
On occasion, I have been known to use words or phrases that need looking up. For some of them, I have created my own word and definition apparently - as much as I might argue to the contrary ("well, you must not have the newest edition of the dictionary or else what I said would be in there..."). Most of the time, however, it is my wife looking up words I said in a sermon (in fact, happened about 2 weeks ago most recently....actually is kind of fun for me now). I have officially uttered the phrase "incipient Judaistic Gnostisicsm" in a sermon before...I know, what was I thinking?
Anyway, I like a well turned phrase as much as the next guy, but what I really dig in the Bible are those "enigmatic" phrases (I'll wait as you join my wife to grab a dictionary should you so need one....although I know that many of you will act as if you know what "enigmatic" means and just keep on going, which is fine if you want to be that way, but relatively self-deceptive don't you think? Plus, I looked it up prior to using it just to make sure I was using it right). I love it when the Scripture talks about being weak to be strong, or that Jesus became poor so we could be rich, or that the greatest will be least in the kingdom of heaven. They are somewhat paradoxical really, yet also make us cry out in worship (which very well might make them a "paradoxology" perhaps....close the dictionary - not in there - I made it up......but it is a pretty good one, no?).
Paul uses an enigmatic phrase here in Colossians. He says, "To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy.....". That's just a counterintuitive statement. To labor, to struggle - well, that means that we exhaust our energy on something. But that's not what Paul says. He says that he labors and struggles with his energy (and of course Paul is referring to Christ's energy). That could be good news to people like you and me.
I can't tell you the number of times that I just feel fried. I'm busy, over-committed sometimes, and I'm running on fumes. "But it's all for God" I tell myself to try and ease the stress. But that doesn't really work. It may be all for God, but it's not all through God. And I think I know why:
I have times in my life where I forget the gospel. I don't forget the content of it - I remember that Jesus died, was buried, and was resurrected on the third day so that God might reconcile the world to Himself through Jesus - I simply forget the practical reality of the gospel. I forget that Christ lives in me. I forget that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive in my mortal body. I forget that I have traded my life for His life. Thus, I forget that I have a strength, an energy, a power at work in me and through me that is not my own. So, it should be no surprise that Paul says that he labors and struggles with all of the energy that is not his own, but is rather the strength and energy of Christ. Though it still requires sacrifice and work, living in and with the energy of Christ would be a good place to live.
The world needs more enigmas. The gospel is an enigma. Christ is an enigma. Salvation is an enigma. Grace is an enigma. I want to be an enigma too, as I live my life with the energy of, and from, Christ.