Scholars are divided as to whether or not Paul’s letter to the Colossians was actually written by Paul or one of his companions that he mentions often in his letters. Whichever is the case, the letter has at its core Paul’s resounding call to the infant churches he has established to live in Christ. It is a call to transformation. From the old self that was bound to our lesser natures, to the new self, the new creation that we are in Christ. Paul describes what this old self behaves like in the last part of the letter, Chapter 3 verses 5-9. He has enumerated this behavior before in other letters. His point once again becomes more pointed and it seems to me, more clear.
Paul speaks of knowledge a few times in this letter as well. (The gnostic religion at the time was based on knowledge as the source and key to understanding the sacred life. It could be that the author of this letter, if not Paul, shared some of this philosophy with the Gnostics.) It sums up what Paul spoke of in Ephesians about the hidden self growing strong. Let the message of Christ find a home in you. This is the message of love and peace. The message that when we discover our hidden selves, we will have found Christ there, who is, as Paul says, all in all. It is this new self, the new way of being, that recovers the image and likeness of God. The fullness of God in us, that has been planted on the love of Christ. The image and likeness Paul intimates was lost when we left the Garden of Eden. But now the people God created for himself is fully restored in how we live out our faith in Jesus the Christ. For Christ is our sacred self.
The self is the source where the sacred in-forms, and can transform, our very being. The self is locus of value and meaning. Jesus embodied the deepest meaning in his life. It is via our own self-realization that we too make real the deepest meaning of our lives. The sacred Self that when fully known brings us to the fullness of God. That is a very powerful statement by the 13th apostle.
The totality of God finds expression in and through the totality of the human person. In becoming more conscious (conscious of one’s self as sacred and our growing consciousness of God, what Kierkegaard called god-consciousness) we come to the realization of our inherent, native divinity; we realize the design that we are was not lost when we left the garden; in this realization we become fully Christ’s, fully whole, fully the person we are meant to be from the beginning.
This too is the heart we put into all we do; the heart of Jesus’ life and his message, the message of Christ a Paul refers to. By his life, death and resurrection he is everything to us. All in all. The message himself.
In whatever time-bound, unfree, dis-eased state we find ourselves, physically or spiritually, Christ trumps it. He is the triumph once and for all over death and ever-accessible reality of our lives now.
The Christ life is now our life. In us he is the image of the sacred Self, the hidden self, that we are tasked with a lifetime of giving birth to; of calling forth from the tomb into the springtime garden of new life; where, with each turn of the sunrise and sunset, in each step into this new future, with each new day, in each whispering moment, he invites and waits for us to put down our nets and follow him.