Colossians 3:16 - Cherish the Word
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.Colossians 3:16
We all have Bibles. We have the Word of God at home, in church, in our schools. It's a privilege we shouldn't take for granted. It gives almost endless opportunities to grow in knowledge and understanding of the Word of Christ. Why is that important? Here is what happens: in his Word, Jesus Christ himself comes to us. Does that not sound great? The living Christ dwelling with Christian believers, in the church, in the congregation!
In the beginning of his letter to the Colossians, Paul talks about the marvellous fullness of God's love and grace in Christ. He speaks about the glorious riches of the mystery, which is Christ in you — the hope of glory (1:27).
A wonderful picture, indeed! But how does that work? How is Christ present among us? And how do we know that he is in our midst as congregation, and that he works in and among the believers by his Holy Spirit? The apostle says that he was sent to disclose this mystery, and to proclaim Christ to them by presenting the Word of God in its fullness (1:25). This is the same Word that in 3:16 he calls the Word of Christ.
The "Word of Christ" is the Word that comes from Christ. This isn't restricted to the words Jesus spoke when he was on earth, but also includes the teaching of the apostles, their co-workers and successors, about the Saviour. So look around in your congregation. Do you see this amazing miracle? Jesus lives here, Christ dwells here in his Word! Not in mysterious rituals or in magic formulas. Not in mystical experiences, but in the Word!
This breathtaking reality was rediscovered in the time of the Reformation. On October 31, the church remembers that by God's grace men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and many others reformed the church into a place where, by the Word, Christ dwells in the presence of his people. Sola Scriptura was one of the reformers' mottos: "Scripture Alone."
This Word has been given to the church to call people to repent and believe. The message is clear: "Salvation is only in Jesus Christ. And he is here!" The world ridicules this and scoffs. Often it gets annoyed by this claim: — 'The Word of Christ, God's truth, is only in the Christian congregation.' Don't be so arrogant. What makes you think that you are so special and that you know everything? You're just ordinary folks, like the rest of us.
That's true. In 1 Corinthians 1:26 the apostle reminds us of what we are: "Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth." Yet in his grace God chose to entrust the church of Christ with his Word. This gift in the congregation then becomes the responsibility of the congregation. We are held accountable for what we do with the Word of Christ. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly!
When Paul says this, he's not just uttering a wish, but he's instructing and commanding. Christians must make sure that the Word of Christ has a permanent and dominant place in the congregation. Cherish the Word as a precious treasure. Carry it with you and be excited about it, as the Word received from someone you love dearly.
The expression "dwelling richly" makes clear that the Word isn't something you notice just once in a while in the church — the Word as occasional visitor. No, God wants his Word in the centre of your attention. This of course applies to the faithful preaching of the Word, sermons that explain the Bible with respect for what it is as the living Word of Christ, God's truth. There's no better way to commemorate the great Reformation and the heritage of the Reformers than by faithful preaching. But it doesn't stop there. Let the Word also dwell richly among us through teaching, Bible study, youth work, small groups, personal devotions, and more. Whatever form it takes, continue to cherish the Word of Christ.
After all, this is how Christ himself is present in the church. And this is how the church becomes more and more recognizable as his dwelling place in this world. A church in which the Word of Christ doesn't have this permanent and dominant place is a place where Christ himself isn't at home! He's become a stranger in his own house. This leaves people without hope and without perspective. Do you see how important it is that we let the Word of Christ dwell among us richly?
If an unbeliever is looking for Jesus Christ, would he be able to find him in your congregation?