Growing older should have changed my attitude about life on planet Earth. In some ways, it has. As my physical body degenerates, enjoying pleasures like going to Boston and creating digital artwork demands greater effort, thus diminishing the attachment to those activities. Pretty soon, I’ll have only memories of such things.
In a brief conversation with a friend Sunday, she and I agreed that the Lord probably allows increasing pain as we age to help us loosen our hold on this life. Obviously, there’s no Scripture to support that theory, but it sure encourages me as I age. It makes me confident that I’ll experience God’s kindness as He transitions me from this life to eternity.
But doesn’t the very fact that I need His help in order to release my hold on this life betray the shameful reality that I don’t comprehend the riches of God’s glory? I’ve been thinking about that possibility as a result of my time in the Word of God this morning, wondering if I’m alone in the struggle to really anticipate eternity with the Lord. Sadly, I think I’m fairly typical.
Paul’s letter to the Colossians primarily addresses the false teachers of their day who promoted esoteric philosophies that would eventually evolve into Gnosticism. To combat this heretical doctrine, Paul emphasized Christ’s deity and preeminence, stressing that all the treasures of wisdom and life reside in Him. Paul delights in his ministry to make the mystery of Christ’s Gospel known to the gentiles in Colossae.
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them 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. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. ~~Colossians 1:24-29 (ESV)
This morning I studied verse 27, and was fascinated by the phrase, “the riches of the glory of this mystery.” Going through the cross-references for this clause, I read:
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, ~~Ephesians 1:17-18 (ESV)
Our inheritance awaits us in heaven, where we will fully behold His glory! As I read that cross-reference, I started wondering why I cherish this earthly life. Why would I set my affections on flawed things like Boston when a glorious eternity with the Lord of all creation awaits me? Shouldn’t I feel embarrassed by my attachment to this present life?
Yes, I should! In fact, I am!
In my embarrassment, however, I rejoice that the Holy Spirit challenges my worldliness through Scriptures like these. I praise Him that His Word constantly pulls me back to the truth that this world, being temporary and hopelessly infected by sin, offers only fake baubles. Faithfully, He reminds me that true riches, so unimaginable while I’m incarcerated in this body of flesh, will surround me for all eternity as I gaze on His glory.