Colossians 3:16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
The daily task of the Christian is the constant re-appropriation of the gospel of Christ into our hearts. That is, the work we must do each day is to rest once again in the finished work of Christ. We must apply and re-apply the gospel message to our lives over and over again. Or, as Paul has already put it earlier in Colossians, we must “seek the things that are above…since we have been raised with Christ.” And we must “set our minds on things above…for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Or to say all this another way, we must let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.
How does a Christian experience the realities of their union with Christ? How does a Christian live out of their death and resurrection with Jesus? How does she “seek the things of heaven?” How does he “set his mind on the things of God?” And for that matter, how does God have his longing to fellowship with us satisfied? How does he experience us? Love us? Guide us? Teach us? Satisfy us?
There’s only one answer – let the word of Christ dwelling in you richly.
The word of Christ. The gospel. Everything Paul has already said about Christ in Colossians: Christ the image of God – Us in the image of Christ – Our death with Christ – Our resurrection with Christ – Our glorification with Christ – The love and peace of Christ in us. This is the word of Christ.
And this word is no mere story, treatise, manifesto, or list of truths to understand and apply. The word of Christ is alive! It dwells in us richly. It is the power of God for salvation. The indwelling word of Christ is the indwelling life of Christ. God’s word of Christ is Christ the Word. Let’s remember these words of Jesus in John 15 – “Abide (dwell) in me and I in you. Apart from me you can do nothing.” Christ in you is the gospel in you. And the gospel in you is the Spirit in you. What? Yes, look at Paul’s parallel thinking in Ephesians 5:
Ephesians 5:18-20. 18 …be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Christian, to let the living and powerful word of Christ live richly in us IS to be filled with the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is to let the gospel take control of your heart and mind. To seek heavenly things, is to let the gospel take control of our lives (day 299). To put on the love of Christ (day 302) is to put on the word. To let peace of Christ rule our hearts (day 303) is to let the word rule.
Are you allowing the word of Christ to dwell in you? First you have to let it in the front door.
As a pastor I talk to people quite often about their heart struggles. And the vast majority of times when I have asked people if they are spending any time in the word of Christ (the Bible), they tell me no. I can’t recall a time that I asked a struggling married couple if they read scripture together and they told me yes. How few parents are reading the word of Christ with their children? How few Christians spend anytime outside of church in the written gospel?
And reading the word of Christ is just the beginning. Reading this blog, listening to Christian podcasts, following Beth Moore on Twitter, these are all fine things, but are you then letting Christ dwell in you? Move in. Take control. Invite Jesus onto the front porch for a few minutes each morning over a cup of coffee? Sure. But let him move in? With all his stuff? Let him go into the fridge without asking? Give him a drawer in the bedroom? Let him leave his toothbrush in the bathroom? Give him a key? Yes, and keep going. Let him dwell in the midst of every hope, every dream, every fear, every worry, every burden, every temptation, every failure, every success. Let the gospel take over your heart house. But how? By reading, meditating upon, and applying the gospel of Christ’s love and mercy to your heart.
“To live is Christ” is to allow the gospel, the word of Christ, to live in your heart house. To give the Spirit control of every thought, decision, and motivation. To trust Jesus with every part of your life. And to give him more and more access as you explore the treasures of scripture more and more, allowing God to love you as you meet him in his word.
Do you spend time in the word of Christ? Does it spend time in you?
You in Christ
How do we reconcile that Christ dwells in us AND we must let him dwell in us richly by his word?
Christ in you
How can you move from just reading about Christ, to letting him dwell richly in you?
Playlist: The Word of Christ.