As Paul concludes his letter to the Colossians from his imprisonment in Rome, he wants to set the course, the way, to live a life fully as a Christian. Which means becoming fully human. In Christ he says we are something new. We are a new people, new persons. Now there is a new way of being available to us. A new way of being ourselves. And this new way is something that can continually be renewed in the image of the Creator and through which we come to know God. And I believe what this means is that we have within us the capacity to become fully human. Becoming fully human means knowing that we are also sacred.
What strikes me here as the full blossoming of spring is upon us is that our human nature is not static. We grow; we are constantly becoming ourselves, learning who we were created to be. Just as Jesus showed his followers, and us, most fully who he was at the resurrection. Because what Jesus taught and what he did by coming back to life is the pinnacle of the transformation process. In coming back to life he personalize and universalized the process of change inherent in human nature. Just as the Father Creator designed a world in which nature is continually in the process of change. Jesus’ resurrection is the authentication on his life. The renewal of his human nature into a sacred nature demonstrates fully for us what we too can become. Paul is saying that living in Christ makes this transformation possible for all who follow after. For all who put their faith in Jesus the Christ.
For all of Jesus’ teachings and sayings and his resurrection are about changing. Changing our hearts. Changing how we practice what we believe. Changing the way we live our lives. Changing our behavior, especially toward others, as Paul so often is telling his audience, who are meeting the challenge within themselves of living something new; and especially the challenge from without from those who criticize and disparage their new way of being.
Recall the many people who believed Jesus was just plain crazy. Even his family came at one point to take him home because they thought he’d lost it. Probably they did not want to see happen to him what eventually did happen to him because his voice was being heard very openly, very publically.
Wisely, Paul did not set out a program for what it means to be more fully human. Rather it is a way of living. This is the secret self that is ours to discover and become. It is the way we come to know ourselves and to know God. Self-knowledge is God-knowledge. Even in 1st century Palestine, without psychological gurus and spiritual mentors, without all the advances we have made in understanding what it means to be human, Paul understood that we are continually renewable human beings and have within us the capacity to become the persons we were created to be. This is a sacred trust. The secret and reality of Christ that he writes about. He knew this, not in any school, but in his experience of the risen Jesus. In faith it is this experience that is possible for us as well.
And like the Creator God who keeps this world in motion and more especially breathes into us the god-life at each moment of each day, we too are ever advancing within ourselves in what it means to be a uniquely created person, myself. To be human, to be sacred, to be meant. For each of us it is the secret of who we are that only we and God know, that only we can discover and grow. The eternal Spring, the ever blooming garden of the Self.
The next Post will explore what Paul has to say about how we come to this fully renewable human nature.